PHILADELPHIA — What would Brett Brown like for Christmas? One 3-point shot per game from his All-Star point guard.
After his Philadelphia 76ers routed the hapless Cleveland Cavaliers 141-94 at the Wells Fargo Center on Saturday night, Brown was asked about Ben Simmons taking — and making — his second 3-pointer of both the season and his career.
And, in response, Brown said he’d like to see Simmons take at least one of them a game — every game — moving forward.
“This is what I want,” Brown said, ”and you can pass it along to his agent, his family and friends. I want a 3-point shot a game, minimum. The pull-up 2s … I’m fine with whatever is open. But I’m interested in the 3-point shot. The mentality that he has where he’s turning corners and taking that long step, that gather step, and bringing his shoulders to the rim and trying to dunk or finish tight, will equal higher efficiency, or getting fouled. That’s the world that interests me the most. Those two things.”
When Simmons made his second career 3-pointer in the second quarter, the game was already well out of reach, with the Sixers going up by 40 points in the first half and over 50 at times in the second while spending the final 24 minutes on cruise control. Philadelphia’s win, along with Dallas’ 46-point rout of New Orleans earlier Saturday, marked the first time in NBA history two teams won by at least 45 points on the same day, according to ESPN Stats & Information.
But on a night that was spent almost exclusively waiting for the final buzzer to sound, the sight of Simmons cleanly and calmly catching in the corner in front of Cleveland’s bench, rising up and burying a triple was the one meaningful moment to come out of it.
“I’m getting more comfortable,” Simmons said after scoring a career-high 34 points to lead the Sixers, who are now 11-0 at home heading into Sunday’s game here against their Atlantic Division rivals, the Toronto Raptors. “Obviously, throughout time I’m getting more comfortable with the game, and just learning my spots. And just adjusting.”
What hasn’t adjusted is the reaction to Simmons making a 3-pointer from the hometown fans. Like when he made one in the preseason, as well as the one he made against the Knicks, the crowd erupted after he hit it, and fans yelled at him to shoot more 3s during the game.
That Simmons has succeeded as much as he has without a 3-point shot thus far — he won Rookie of the Year in 2018, made an All-Star team last season and signed a max contract extension with Philadelphia this summer — is an indication of his natural talent level.
And while the fan reaction to him making a simple catch-and-shoot corner 3 is over the top, there is no arguing the importance of that shot to a Sixers team that is desperate for any kind of shooting it can get.
“The drama of it is overblown,” Brown said. “The reality [is] that he can shoot and it’s ultimately going to need to come into his game in a pronounced way from an attempt standpoint, that’s not overblown. I think the drama surrounding it is completely overblown. When I put on my coaching hat and I’m looking at a 23-year-old young man trying to grow his game, it’s completely, first, in his wheelhouse. And, secondly, he will be liberated. His world will open up.
“And I think, in many ways, so will ours.”