Doc Rivers saluted the impact and influence of Joel Embiid after his stellar showing drove the Philadelphia 76ers to a 122-110 win over the Boston Celtics.

Two days on from scoring 42 points in seeing off the Celtics, Embiid was on it once more against the same opposition, plundering 38 points and grabbing 11 rebounds.

With Tobias Harris weighing in with 23 points from 10-of-12 shooting, and Ben Simmons coming on strong with 11 of his 15 points in the fourth quarter, Philadelphia had an irresistible combination.

"We're just growing, you can see it," coach Rivers told a post-game news conference.

"When you look at Joel's numbers - 11 from 15 - he didn't force it a lot, made some great plays out. 

"He let it comes to him. Down the stretch when they were starting to trap him, instead of winning the ball he actually was trying to get the ball to move the ball.

"It says so many things to your teammates. Then when Ben got it going it was Joel who was wanting to call the pick and rolls to get him going more.

"I like how the chemistry of this team grows each night. During COVID it's hard to try to get chemistry and you can see it growing."

Rivers applauded the "quick decisions" that Harris made in the game, declaring that on his best form he is an "unbelievable" talent.

"He's a train going downhill," Rivers said. "He's got a beautiful shot. I love how he's playing. I love what confidence he's playing with."

Even when Harris takes to showboating, Rivers is prepared to stomach it.

"It's going to happen and that's fine. He is talented enough to do it, I just don't think he's efficient when he does it."

Rivers said Simmons' impact in the closing quarter was "awesome". As well as his priceless points, Simmons also had 11 assists.

"He's doing so many things for this team. His winning formula is amazing," Rivers said. "Ben does a lot. He can't focus on one thing like focusing on just scoring, he's too good for that for me.

"It would be a waste if that's all we focused on with him.

"What I did like is he went downhill more tonight and finished at the basket. That's what he has to do and that's what we're working on."

There is no doubt Philadelphia 76ers star Joel Embiid is performing at an MVP level following his monstrous double-double midweek, according to Tobias Harris.

The 76ers took down Eastern Conference rivals the Boston Celtics 117-109 thanks to Embiid's 42 points and 10 rebounds in Philadelphia on Wednesday.

Embiid – returning to action following knee soreness – had 22 points in the first half as the three-time All-Star topped 40 points for the second time in three games, joining Washington Wizards guard Bradley Beal as the only NBA players with multiple such performances.

There is only one other instance where a Sixers player had a 40 and 10 game on one or fewer turnovers since the three-point era – Embiid himself in 2019.

76ers team-mate Harris hailed Embiid, who is averaging 26.4 points, 11.3 rebounds and 2.8 assists per game this season.

"It's not sort of, it's for sure MVP-calibre," Harris told reporters of Embiid after the 76ers improved to 10-5, and 8-1 on home court.

76ers head coach Doc Rivers was also full of praise following Embiid's mammoth display, which consisted of 12-of-19 shooting in 34 minutes.

"I'm not surprised at the level," Rivers said. "He's just more talented than even I knew. I knew he was extremely talented, but he has so many more gifts."

Harris, who signed a maximum contract at the start of 2019-20, contributed 22 points to help the 76ers past the Celtics.

His performance was not lost on Embiid, who added: "Tobias had a great night. He's playing at an All-Star level as he should be and he should be an All-Star."

"I just pride myself on doing whatever I can for our team," Harris said. "Making winning plays and the right play out there so that's just been my MO and I know my role as a player and I know what's asked of me night after night to be a leader and also to be a top player on this team and I’m embracing that."

While Ben Simmons did not have the best offensive outing, the two-time All-Star excelled defensively.

Simmons almost recorded a triple-double with 11 points, eight rebounds and eight assists, while he tallied two steals as he defended the likes of Kemba Walker, Jaylen Brown and Marcus Smart.

"I thought Ben was unbelievable defensively," Rivers said. "First of all, we put him on Kemba tonight, we put him on Jaylen Brown tonight, put him on Marcus Smart tonight. It's amazing what he can do for us and tonight was a great example of that."

Ben Simmons insisted he was unfazed about talk over his future with the Philadelphia 76ers after James Harden joined the Brooklyn Nets.

Simmons was the subject of trade rumours as the 76ers were linked to Harden, whose move from the Houston Rockets to the Nets was confirmed on Thursday.

But, after the 76ers' 125-108 win over the Miami Heat on Thursday, the 24-year-old said it was just part of the game.

"This is a business, things like that happen," Simmons told a news conference.

"The only thing I can control is how I approach my workouts, the games and my day-to-day things.

"I'm just trying to be professional and do the right thing and help my team get wins."

Asked if he was happy to be in Philadelphia, Simmons responded: "Of course."

Simmons posted a triple-double of 10 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds in the win over the Heat.

It was his 30th triple-double in the NBA. Only Oscar Robertson (75 games) and Magic Johnson (190) have managed that quicker than Simmons (228).

Philadelphia head coach Doc Rivers was delighted with Simmons' performance as the 76ers improved to 9-4.

"I thought tonight is who he has to be every night. I loved the way he played. I loved how he played under control, didn't force it, took gaps when they were there," he said.

"He was a presence on the floor for us and not just on the offensive end but on the defensive end as well and that takes us to a different level when he plays like that."

Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid are showing they each have the ability to be Defensive Player of the Year, according to Philadelphia 76ers team-mate Danny Green.

The Sixers were 127-112 winners against the Charlotte Hornets on Saturday, with Simmons' 29th career triple-double leading the way.

The 24-year-old, who made the All-Defensive First Team in 2020, also had had a block and a steal to go with his 15 points, 11 assists and 12 rebounds, of which 11 were on the defensive end.

Team-mate Embiid - twice selected to the All-Defensive Second Team - balanced his 19 points with 11 defensive rebounds, a steal and an assist, too.

Green said of the pair after Philly moved to 5-1 at the top of the East: "They can be monstrous for us defensively.

"I think they have the potential, both of them, to be Defensive Player of the Year with their size, ability, reflexes, their footwork."

Coach Doc Rivers was on the same page, too, adding: "Ben has been, in my opinion, as good as anyone in the league defensively.

"Then having Joel to back him up, that combination defensively allows you to do a lot of things that you probably wouldn't do when you have the size of those two guys."

But the Sixers' two star names were not the only players contributing on both ends of the floor against Charlotte.

Tobias Harris was particularly impressive in a dominant display that led his team in scoring with 24 points but also included nine rebounds, six assists, four steals and three blocks.

Six games into the season, Harris is averaging career highs in rebounds (8.5), assists (3.2, same as 2019-20), steals (1.5) and blocks (1.5), and Simmons has noted the improvement.

"On both sides of the ball, offensively and defensively, he's been amazing," he said. "He's been an amazing factor for our team and he's going to be if we want to win a championship."

Simmons added: "We've got a good group, the chemistry's good off the floor. It makes it even better when you're winning, playing the right way, sharing the ball.

"Guys aren't worried about who's scoring the ball, as long as we're scoring and winning games.

"That's what it's all about for us. Our goal is to win a championship, and to do that, we need everybody."

Ben Simmons led the way with his 29th career triple-double as the Philadelphia 76ers claimed top spot in the NBA Eastern Conference with a 127-122 win over the Charlotte Hornets.

Simmons dropped 15 points, 12 rebounds and 11 assists as Philly opened up a 15-point first quarter lead and never looked back to go 5-1.

Joel Embiid contributed with a double-double of 19 points and 14 rebounds, while Tobias Harris top scored with 24 points as the 76ers claimed a third straight victory.

Ben Simmons (15 PTS, 12 REB, 11 AST) puts up a triple-double as the @sixers move to 5-1!

Tobias Harris: 24 PTS, 9 REB, 6 AST, 4 STL, 3 BLK
Seth Curry: 21 PTS (8-11 FGM), 6 AST
Joel Embiid: 19 PTS, 14 REB
Terry Rozier: 35 PTS, 7 3PM pic.twitter.com/ZgvqSUC9kp

— NBA (@NBA) January 3, 2021

The Atlanta Hawks (4-2) fell off the pace in the East following a 96-91 loss against the Cleveland Cavaliers as Colin Sexton scored 13 of his 27 points in the fourth quarter to snatch the win. 

John Wall led the scoring with 28 points as the Houston Rockets made it back-to-back triumphs against the Sacramento Kings, 102-98, in Texas.

Christian Wood posted a double-double with 15 rebounds and 20 points as the Rockets improved from 0-2 to 2-2 since Wall’s arrival, while James Harden was sidelined with an ankle injury.

Big scorers come up short for Magic, Pacers

Nikola Vucevic dazzled, putting up 30 points and 13 rebounds, but it was not enough to prevent the Orlando Magic slipping to 4-2 after a 108-99 loss against the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Six OKC players hit double-figures in an all-round team effort as Darius Bazley top scored with 19 points and 12 rebounds.

Philadelphia 76ers head coach Doc Rivers hailed Joel Embiid following his game-winning and record-equalling display against the Toronto Raptors.

Embiid posted a third consecutive double-double to help the 76ers rally past the Raptors 100-93 in NBA action in Philadelphia on Tuesday.

The three-time All-Star, who missed the loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers due to a stiff back, returned to post 29 points and 16 rebounds against the winless Raptors.

Embiid became the first 76ers player to score at least 25 points and 10 rebounds in each of his first three games in a season since Charles Barkley in 1986-87.

"He was terrific, dominant," Rivers said post-game. "I thought he made the three best plays down the stretch by passes.

"He got the ball out of the post, swung it, got the ball again, swung it to Seth [Curry] for a three, and that's how we have to play."

Rivers added: "Embiid is a dominant basketball player and the other teams are going to send people. We work on it every day, everyone getting into the right spots. So Joel doesn't have to think. He can just pass it and he did that tonight."

Embiid put up 18 points – 12 in the second quarter – six rebounds, two assists, one steal and a block in the first half.

"I'm just doing my job, but you got to give a lot of credit," said Embiid. "Tobias [Harris] came up big, Seth hit a big shot.

"We, as a team, we all had a great defensive fourth quarter. Offensively, we just moved the ball."

The 76ers – eyeing their first championship since 1983 – trailed by as many as 14 points before clawing their way back to improve to 3-1 for the season.

"These games are great for your character," Rivers said. "You've just gotta keep playing. I was really happy."

Ben Simmons, meanwhile, lauded 76ers team-mate Tobias Harris – who finished with 26 points and 11 rebounds to help fuel Philadelphia's comeback.

"He was huge," Simmons said of Harris. "Whenever you have somebody going, you want to keep feeding them, and going with that momentum.

"He was great for us and Joel also was dominant so those two guys together had great offensive games and then defensively as a team, we really stepped up."

Ben Simmons likened the championship-chasing Philadelphia 76ers to the Harlem Globetrotters after their comprehensive win over the lowly New York Knicks in the NBA.

The 76ers stayed perfect with their second win from two games thanks to Saturday's 109-89 victory against the Knicks in New York.

Joel Embiid fuelled the 76ers – eyeing a first title since 1983 – with a double-double of 27 points and 10 rebounds, while All-Star team-mate Simmons had 15 points, nine rebounds and six assists.

Discussing the game, Simmons – the subject of trade speculation involving Houston Rockets star James Harden – said: "At one point it felt like the Harlem Globetrotters, we were passing the ball so much and moving it."

"We got the lead, lost the lead a little bit, but I think it was just our mentality, knowing we had to step up," Simmons said. "We have to hold each other accountable defensively and offensively. … We've got to play at a high level every night. We can't take breaks with anybody, especially with teams that we should beat."

76ers head coach Rivers, who replaced Brett Brown in the offseason, also earned his 945th regular-season victory to move 10th all-time in NBA history, surpassing Bill Fitch.

Simmons added: "He believes in us. He believes in everybody's ability. He's not going to lie to you and tell you to do things you can't do. For me, he tells me certain things. Like tonight, an example would be, 'Be assertive. Keep being aggressive. Attack the rim'.

"When I'm doing that, he's giving me praise and letting me know I'm doing a good job. And that just gives me more confidence to keep doing it, getting to the rim and making plays for my team-mates.

"But also, on the other side, he's going to keep it real with you. If there's a thing you need to work on, things that he sees out there that you might not see, he's going to let you know. That's all about just helping each other get better. And he's doing that with everybody, which is great."

Rivers also praised Simmons, who nullified the impact of Knicks star RJ Barrett at Madison Square Garden.

Barrett was just two-of-15 shooting from the field, while he missed all six of his three-point attempts, finishing with 10 points, six rebounds and four assists in a team-high 37 minutes.

"Ben, he's got so many skills," Rivers said. "And we're trying to get them all out of him. I thought defensively, he was terrific. He used his size, his length. His instincts are unbelievable, something I didn't know until now coaching him.

"And then on the other end, I thought with the pace that he played and forced actions — we got threes just because Ben Simmons pushed the ball up the floor, created actions in the paint and kicked out to guys. I thought he was terrific tonight."

Philadelphia 76ers All-Star Ben Simmons said he is unfazed about trade rumours involving James Harden as he looks to deliver an NBA championship to the franchise.

Houston Rockets star and former MVP Harden reportedly wants to be traded to either the 76ers or Eastern Conference rivals the Brooklyn Nets.

There have reportedly been talks between the Rockets and 76ers, with Houston eyeing former number one draft pick Simmons as part of any potential deal.

Simmons was asked about the speculation ahead of the 76ers' season opener against the Washington Wizards on Wednesday.

"No," Simmons told reporters when asked if he is worried about the rumours following Tuesday's practice. "I come in every day, take it a day at a time, ready to work.

"I'm with my team-mates. ... Every day I wake up, every time I got a Sixers uniform on, I'm representing the Sixers. So my mentality never changes.

"I'm here to win a championship. That goal is never gonna change. I know things are always going to be said in the media, and rumours and things like that, but my goal is to come in every day and get better and help the team that I'm on win a championship."

Simmons averaged 16.4 points, 8.0 assists and 7.8 rebounds as the 76ers were swept by the Boston Celtics in the opening round of last season's playoffs at Walt Disney World Resort.

The 24-year-old – who signed a five-year, $170million max contract prior to 2019-20 – is an elite defender and creator with unrivalled pace, but his shooting struggles have left him stuck between a star and superstar.

There have been signs of a shooter behind all of his usual brilliance, however Simmons' jump-shot is too few and far between.

Previously compared to LeBron James, Simmons does not shoot threes or free throws well – his career free-throw percentage of 59.3 is the worst in NBA history by a guard with at least 1,000 attempts.

And his career three-point percentage (two-for-24, 8.3) is the lowest among all guards who debuted in the NBA in 2000 or later (minimum 20 attempts).

In 2019-20, points scored by Harden and points scored off his assists averaged 52.4 per game. It followed 53.9 in 2018-19, 51.3 in 2017-18 and 56 the season previous.

That marked four successive seasons with 50-plus points per game created, tying Oscar Robertson (1963-64 to 1966-67) for the longest streak in NBA history.

Harden averaged 34.3 points, 7.5 assists and 6.6 rebounds per game for the Rockets, who lost in the Western Conference semi-finals.

Philadelphia 76ers president of basketball operations Daryl Morey said the team will not trade Ben Simmons amid growing links to Houston Rockets star James Harden.

Former NBA MVP Harden reportedly wants to be traded to either the 76ers or Eastern Conference rivals the Brooklyn Nets.

There have reportedly been talks between the Rockets and 76ers, with Houston eyeing two-time All-Star and former number one pick Simmons as part of any potential deal.

However, former Rockets general manager Morey insisted the 76ers have no plans to part with Simmons as Philadelphia continue to build around the Australian and Joel Embiid.

"We are not trading Ben Simmons — he is an important part of our future," Morey, who spent 13 years in Houston before leaving at the end of 2019-20, told The Athletic.

Simmons averaged 16.4 points, 8.0 assists and 7.8 rebounds as the 76ers were swept by the Boston Celtics in the opening round of last season's playoffs at Walt Disney World Resort.

The 24-year-old – who signed a five-year, $170million max contract prior to 2019-20 – is an elite defender and creator with unrivalled pace, but his shooting struggles have left him stuck between a star and superstar.

There have been signs of a shooter behind all of his usual brilliance, however Simmons' jump-shot is too few and far between.

Previously compared to LeBron James, Simmons does not shoot threes or free throws well – his career free-throw percentage of 59.3 is the worst in NBA history by a guard with at least 1,000 attempts.

And his career three-point percentage (two-for-24, 8.3) is the lowest among all guards who debuted in the NBA in 2000 or later (minimum 20 attempts).

In 2019-20, points scored by Harden and points scored off his assists averaged 52.4 per game. It followed 53.9 in 2018-19, 51.3 in 2017-18 and 56 the season previous.

That marked four successive seasons with 50-plus points per game created, tying Oscar Robertson (1963-64 to 1966-67) for the longest streak in NBA history.

Harden averaged 34.3 points, 7.5 assists and 6.6 rebounds per game for the Rockets, who lost in the Western Conference semi-finals.

James Harden really wants out of Houston and he is apparently even willing to play with Dwight Howard again to make it happen. 

It's now more of a question of when than if the Rockets will take the next step in a massive teardown and trade their disgruntled superstar. It's even more obvious that Harden's desire is to take his extraordinary scoring talents and mercurial personality to Brooklyn to form a super team that, in theory, would rival any legitimate title contender in both star power and skill level.

That wish seems to be one-sided. New Rockets general manager Rafael Stone is rightfully insisting on getting a young franchise cornerstone back if he's to deal the three-time scoring champion, something the Nets can't realistically deliver without a complicated scenario involving a third team. 

A package centered around Caris LeVert, Spencer Dinwiddie, Jarrett Allen and a slew of first-round picks that will likely fall in the 20s doesn't meet that demand. A Kyrie Irving-for-Harden swap probably wouldn't accomplish much other than exchanging one unhappy star for another, one who would be somewhat redundant anyway with John Wall now donning Rockets' red.  And Nets GM Sean Marks would quickly hang up the phone if Kevin Durant's name ever came up in conversations.

Brooklyn doesn't appear too keen on making this blockbuster happen as well, and understandably so. There are potential headaches to having another ball-dominant player like Harden share a court with Irving and Durant, not to mention the overwhelming pressure and expectations Harden's arrival would add to a rookie head coach in Steve Nash.

Harden's other presumed preferred destination, Philadelphia, looks to be a more plausible possibility. With Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons on the roster, the 76ers meet Houston's criteria for a dynamic young player to rebuild around, though one would have to certainly go to truly make it work. (Sorry, Sixers fans, having Tobias Harris and his bloated contract as the centerpiece won't cut it).

Simmons, often portrayed as the poster child for the shortcomings of 'The Process', the 76ers' grand reconstruction plan that's generated more hope and excitement in the City of Brotherly Love than tangible postseason success, would seem to be the more likely candidate to change teams in a Harden scenario. 

And, although new Sixers GM Daryl Morey has steadfastly gone on record saying he has no plans to trade the 2018 Rookie of the Year, that is the same Daryl Morey who brokered a franchise-altering deal to pry away Harden from the Oklahoma City Thunder in 2012.

Let's further examine the potential benefits – and risks – that a hypothetical Harden-for-Simmons deal would bring for both teams.


WHY THE ROCKETS WOULD DO IT

As mentioned above, a trade involving Simmons would trump any offer the Nets could conceivably make short of a pipe-dream scenario that would have Durant going the other way. Houston would also be getting back a 24-year-old who's made two All-Star teams in three seasons and is under contract for five more years.

Simmons gets his share of grief for what he doesn't do – shoot threes – but he does a lot of things well, and some historically well. No player in the last 35 years 6-foot-10 or taller has averaged more assists per 48 minutes than his 11.1, with Nikola Jokic (9.1), Toni Kukoc (6.7), Giannis Antetokounmpo (6.4) and Chris Webber (5.5) his nearest rivals in that metric.

Only two. Nerlens Noel (2.84) and Hakeem Olajuwon (2.49) have averaged more steals per 48 minutes that Simmons' 2.30.

In many respects, Simmons is indeed a true 'unicorn', displaying the vision and passing chops of a point guard in a power forward's body as well as the elite defensive skills capable of guarding virtually anyone on the court. And as a player who thrives in transition and on cuts to the basket, one could assume he'd be a strong fit alongside a speedy playmaker like Wall, with the added bonus of being able to run an offense in place of Houston's injury-prone newcomer.


WHY THE 76ERS WOULD DO IT

So why would the 76ers part with a player who, save for a lack of an outside shot, is a near-perfect prototype for today's positionless NBA?

For one, they'd be getting back a player suited for new coach Doc Rivers' system perhaps better than any other in the game today. Rivers' teams annually ranked among the NBA leaders in the use of isolation plays during his seven-year run with the Los Angeles Clippers, and Harden has led the NBA in isos in each of the last five seasons – some by wide margins. His average of 14.1 isolations per game in 2019-20 nearly doubled the next-closest competitor, his now-former Rockets teammate Russell Westbrook. 

Harden's knack for getting to the free throw line would benefit the Sixers and likely wouldn’t suffer under Rivers. His 15.5 free throws attempted per 48 minutes last season was the fourth-highest mark in NBA history, behind only Wilt Chamberlain (1961-62, 16.9), Shaquille O'Neal (2000-01, 16.0), and Antetokounmpo (2019-20, 15.8). Philadelphia ranked 22nd in the NBA in free-throw rate (.255) in 2019-20, a category where Rivers' Clippers finished second (.295).

Harden also possesses another weapon in his arsenal that Simmons noticeably lacks – the threat and capability of a three-point shot. Poor perimeter shooting contributed greatly to Philadelphia's quick exit in this past season's playoffs, in which the Sixers shot a woeful 26.4 percent from beyond the arc in being swept by the Boston Celtics in the opening round.

Simmons missed that series with a knee injury, but a lack of spacing was often a problem with him on the floor last year – particularly when paired with Embiid. The Sixers were a pedestrian +28 in point differential with the two playing together, and Embiid was individually a +137 when grouped with others besides Simmons.

Using the plus/minus statistic, Philadelphia was actually a better team without Simmons. In the 57 games he played in last season, the 76ers were +75 with him on the court and +101 with him on the bench. 

To be fair, the 2017-18 Sixers team that won 52 games excelled with Simmons and Embiid playing together, outscoring their opponents by 447 points over the course of the campaign. That team was flush with strong perimeter scorers, with four players (JJ Redick, Robert Covington, Dario Saric, Marco Belinelli) all shooting 36.9 percent or better from three-point range while averaging at least five treys a game.

Philadelphia didn't have that luxury this past season, a reason why two of Morey's major moves during the break were acquiring veteran floor-spacers Seth Curry and Danny Green in trades. That's at the very least some sign of a commitment to making the Simmons-Embiid dynamic work again.

Plans can change quickly in the NBA, however, and more so when it involves a team with unquestioned championship aspirations.  A fast start would at least temporarily quell the growing rumours, but a slow one would do little to make them subside. 

Philadelphia 76ers head coach Doc Rivers was pleased with what he saw from Joel Embiid in the pre-season win over the Boston Celtics, despite the center not being the focal point on offense. 

Embiid contributed 18 points in just 17 minutes of playing time during Philadelphia's 108-99 win over their Eastern Conference rivals on Tuesday. 

The three-time NBA All-Star missed all four of his three-point attempts in the contest, yet Rivers felt the way he contributed during his limited time on the floor was a blueprint for the future. 

The 76ers are beginning a new chapter under Rivers, who accepted the job opportunity in Philadelphia just days after parting ways with the Los Angeles Clippers.

"Phenomenal," Rivers said of Embiid after the game. "It's a great example for Joel. We ran our stuff, but we didn't run his stuff, and he still got 18.

"That's one of the things that I was telling him, we can run continuity offense, and not even run any plays for you, but you're still going to end up with the ball because you're the best player, and you'll see that happen.

"That did happen, and I thought that was a great thing for Joel."

The 76ers turned to Rivers to replace Brett Brown, who was fired after the team were swept by the Celtics in the opening round of the NBA playoffs.

As well as a coaching change, Philadelphia also completed trades for Danny Green, Seth Curry and Tony Bradley during a busy offseason, as well as adding Dwight Howard in free agency.

Tyrese Maxey was selected with the 21st pick in the draft too, and the rookie impressed against the Celtics, scoring eight points while playing 12 minutes off the bench.

The 76ers go up against the Indiana Pacers in another pre-season game on Friday, then open their 2020-21 campaign against the Washington Wizards on December 23.

Philadelphia 76ers All-Star Ben Simmons said he is ready to return to his position as "facilitator" as Doc Rivers ushers in a new era at Wells Fargo Center.

All eyes are on Simmons and fellow All-Star Joel Embiid following the arrival of head coach Rivers, who replaced Brett Brown after the 76ers were swept by Eastern Conference rivals the Boston Celtics in the first round of last season's NBA playoffs.

Simmons and the 76ers struggled for consistency, especially inside the Orlando bubble at Walt Disney World Resort, where the 2016 number one draft pick went from point guard to power forward.

But with Rivers now calling the shots courtside, Simmons is poised for a return to his old position in Philadelphia, where the 76ers are eyeing their first championship since 1983.

"Yeah, if you want to put me in that position," Simmons said on Monday when asked if he would be back at point guard this season. "But yeah, facilitator. Just a playmaker.

"Coach wants me to make plays. ... There's numerous ways to do that. There's scoring, getting to the rim, drawing defenders, there's setting picks, and just creating options.

"So just me having the ball and being able to create different varieties of options is going to be tough for teams to guard, whether it's me kicking it ahead and setting a pick and setting a back screen for [Joel Embiid], it's going to be tough for guys to guard, especially when we have guys running around knocking down threes."

Simmons averaged 16.4 points, eight assists and 7.8 rebounds during the 2019-20 regular season.

The Australian star is set to be a focal point yet again for the 76ers, who have made moves under new president of basketball operations Daryl Morey – Danny Green, Seth Curry and Dwight Howard have arrived, while Al Horford and Josh Richardson have departed.

Much has been said about franchise pillars Embiid and Simmons, and their compatibility as the 76ers prepare for the opening game of the season against the Washington Wizards on December 23.

When Embiid and Simmons play, the 76ers boast a 119-65 win-loss record, per Stats Perform. But without one or both, they greatly suffer (67-94), Embiid's physicality in the paint and Simmons' superior defensive skills vital in Philadelphia.

The 76ers average 111.7 points, 107.5 opposition points, 47.4 rebounds and 26.4 assists per game with Embiid and Simmons involved, a clear improvement compared to when one or both miss a game – 106.7 points, 109.4 opposition points, 44.5 rebounds and 25.0 assists.

Philadelphia also have a superior field goal percentage (46.9) when Embiid and Simmons both play, with the 76ers shooting just 45.3 per cent without one or both. Opposition numbers also go up in their absence – field goal percentage (44.3 to 46.2) and three-point percentage (34.1 to 35.5).

"The spacing is huge, but it also comes down to us knowing where to be and in the right spots and following our guidelines," Simmons said.

"Somebody is in a certain position and we know the other man needs to cut, that's just going to make it easier. We're just going to read and play off each other, and just continue to make the right plays."

Rivers added: "He's our facilitator, for sure. Unless I have a true, true point guard, like a Chris Paul or Rajon Rondo, I rarely ... I don't think I called anybody a point guard the entire year last season [with the Los Angeles Clippers].

"But Ben is clearly our facilitator, and Ben is special, man. When he gets the ball in the open floor, there's very few like him. And we want to get him the ball in the open floor to let him be special."

Ben Simmons believes he can help lead the Philadelphia 76ers to an NBA title alongside Joel Embiid.

Doc Rivers has replaced Brett Brown as head coach of the 76ers, who have reached the playoffs in each of the past three seasons but are without a championship since 1983.

Simmons' chemistry with Embiid has been questioned, although Philadelphia have a 64.7 win percentage when they both play compared to 41.6 when one or both misses a game since 2016-17.

The top pick in the 2016 NBA Draft, Simmons believes the 76ers – who have added the likes of Dwight Howard, Danny Green and Seth Curry in the offseason – are on the right track ahead of the upcoming campaign.

"I think Joel and I both realise how unique and special this moment is. For two guys, like us, to be on the same team at a young age," Simmons said.

"You know everybody wanted it [for him and Embiid to be coached by Brown] for the first couple of years, but it didn't happen and it doesn't work like that.

"We have a new opportunity, we have new guys on the team, new leadership. And I think we can go all the way. I wouldn't be sitting here if I didn't believe it and I don't think Dwight would be either if he didn't believe it."

Simmons, who averaged 16.4 points, eight assists and 7.8 rebounds during the 2019-20 regular season, joked he was moving in with Embiid.

Meanwhile, Embiid also dismissed reports which questioned his relationship with Simmons.

"I mean we can't hang out off the court. I have got a newborn, I've got a family to take care of, trying to stay safe, I don't want to get the virus and I don't want to give it to anybody," he said.

"I am going to do the same thing that I have always done and that is to make sure I always protect my family, and the people I am around, and then also my team-mates. It is just doing the right things.

"But we have been texting a lot, we have been communicating a lot. The notion of what people have been saying in the past, I just don't think it's true. You know, on the court, if you are looking at two years ago, when we had a lot of space and we were able to dominate together. That was just the way to go. And, last year was just different because we didn't have... that wasn't the same as we have always had. To be able to do the same things that we've been doing in the last couple of years.

"Our relationship is great. We have been way closer, even on the court. If we have got to walk out, we are walking out together as a group. If we gotta play two on two, I want him on my team. You know just playing ball together and just going from there.

"You know the national media always trying to create stories because they don't have anything to talk about, but we are fine. We know where we are, we know what our goals are and we know what it takes to accomplish it. We have been through a lot and we are just going to keep working hard and stay together to try to make it [winning a championship] happen."

The 76ers begin their 2020-21 season against the Washington Wizards on December 23.

Philadelphia 76ers recruit Dwight Howard believes Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons can click like the Los Angeles Lakers' NBA championship-winning duo LeBron James and Anthony Davis.

Howard will play in Philadelphia in 2020-21 after teaming up with superstar pair James and Davis to help the Lakers to NBA glory last season.

Veteran big man Howard will now try to guide the 76ers to their first championship since 1983, combining with another All-Star duo – Embiid and Simmons.

Much has been said about franchise pillars Embiid and Simmons, and their compatibility as the 76ers prepare for life under new head coach Doc Rivers, who replaced Brett Brown following a first-round sweep at the hands of Eastern Conference rivals the Boston Celtics in 2019-20.

Eight-time All-Star Howard has advice for Embiid and Simmons, telling reporters on Thursday: "I've been in that situation multiple times, going to a team that has another star — Charlotte, Atlanta, Houston, L.A., D.C. — playing alongside other stars.

"Sometimes it can be difficult because you want to be that guy, and watching AD and LeBron, everything they did was together.

"They worked out together, they ate together, they rode bikes together. We called them the brothers. They were always playing together — playing video games, doing something. … Ben and Joel, they have to be that way.

"They have to know each other so much on and off the court that when they're playing, it's just natural. 'OK, I know Jo needs a touch right now, let me get him an easy bucket'. 'Ah, Ben is frustrated, let me set a screen for him, get him a couple dunks, couple shots at the rim just to get him going'.

"Once you're willing to give yourself up, great things tend to happen for you. … I can see that in Ben and Jo. Those two guys together, putting aside any ego, pride or anything, and saying, 'Hey, we're both for one mission, and that's to win a championship, and it starts and finishes with us two'.

"And I saw that with LeBron and AD. They put everything on their shoulders. They knew they had guys around them but it was, 'OK, LeBron. OK, AD. We've gotta do this, it starts with us. We've gotta be on the same page at all times'. And they did a really good job of it."

When Embiid and Simmons play, the 76ers boast a 119-65 win-loss record, per Stats Perform. But without one or both, they greatly suffer (67-94), Embiid's physicality in the paint and Simmons' superior defensive skills vital in Philadelphia.

The 76ers average 111.7 points, 107.5 opposition points, 47.4 rebounds and 26.4 assists per game with Embiid and Simmons involved, a clear improvement compared to when one or both miss a game – 106.7 points, 109.4 opposition points, 44.5 rebounds and 25.0 assists.

Philadelphia also have a superior field goal percentage (46.9) when Embiid and Simmons both play, with the 76ers shooting just 45.3 per cent without one or both. Opposition numbers also go up in their absence – field goal percentage (44.3 to 46.2) and three-point percentage (34.1 to 35.5).

"Playing alongside Jo and Ben, I think for me it's just giving them a sense that they can do anything," he said. "For Joel, it's just pushing him every single day to know that he's the best, and every time he steps on the floor he has to be the best player on the floor — whether that be practice, in the weight room, in the training room, during all the games. It's 'I'm the best player on the floor. I'm going to show it through my actions on offense and defense'.

"For me, it's really just cleaning up their mistakes, pushing them to be the best and just providing them with knowledge through my experiences. I see so much potential in Ben and Jo that I just want to see them succeed.

"I see so much potential out of those two — what they can bring to a team, the championships that they can have — just all the blessings they can get from playing this great game of basketball. I really just want to be that person to help push them toward their greatness."

Dwight Howard believes Ben Simmons can become one of the greatest to ever play in the NBA as he compared the Philadelphia 76ers All-Star to LeBron James.

Howard will team up with Simmons and Joel Embiid in Philadelphia after leaving NBA champions the Los Angeles Lakers for the 76ers via free agency.

An eight-time All-Star, Howard won a title alongside Lakers superstar James in Los Angeles and he is relishing the opportunity to play with former number one draft pick Simmons in Philadelphia.

Simmons – an elite defender and creator with unrivalled pace – averaged 16.4 points, 8.0 assists and 7.8 rebounds per game last season before injury cut short his campaign as the 76ers were swept by the Boston Celtics in the opening round of the playoffs.

"Ben Simmons is a young LeBron ... I love the way he plays. I love how unselfish he is, and how mean he can be to other teams, and that's important," Howard told reporters on Wednesday.

"When you have your point guard coming down, dunking on people, flexing, getting big rebounds, talking trash, doing all those things, it drives you to want to be better.

"He has an opportunity to be one of the greatest to ever play the game, and I'm glad I have the opportunity to actually give him some things that can help him along the way."

Howard arrives in the city of Brotherly Love with one thing on his mind – delivering the 76ers their first championship since 1983.

Much has been said about franchise pillars Embiid and Simmons, and their compatibility as the 76ers prepare for life under new head coach Doc Rivers, who replaced Brett Brown.

When Embiid and Simmons play, the 76ers boast a 119-65 win-loss record, per Stats Perform. But without one or both, they greatly suffer (67-94), Embiid's physicality in the paint and Simmons' superior defensive skills vital in Philadelphia.

The 76ers average 111.7 points, 107.5 opposition points, 47.4 rebounds and 26.4 assists per game with Embiid and Simmons involved, a clear improvement compared to when one or both miss a game – 106.7 points, 109.4 opposition points, 44.5 rebounds and 25.0 assists.

Philadelphia also have a superior field goal percentage (46.9) when Embiid and Simmons both play, with the 76ers shooting just 45.3 per cent without one or both. Opposition numbers also go up in their absence – field goal percentage (44.3 to 46.2) and three-point percentage (34.1 to 35.5).

"There's a lot of things," Howard replied when asked why he thinks the Sixers – who also recruited Seth Curry and Danny Green – can win a title. "You have two great young stars in Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid, I'm going to start there. Those guys, to me I watched when Joel lost [to the Toronto Raptors in the Eastern Conference semi-finals in 2019] and how bad it hurt, he just cried, and I know what that feels like. I've been in that moment before where it's like, 'Man, I gave everything I had. I put it all on the line and I came up short.'

"It doesn't sit well with you, it stays with you for a really long time. So with him I know he has a fire inside of him, and we've all seen glimpses of it all year, and I think this is the year where it's about being focused. I see focus in him, I see focus in Ben, and that's where it starts with our two best players.

"Then you look at the rest of the guys on our team, they've all been hungry, they just never knew how to win. And I think by adding a guy like Danny Green and myself, we just fresh off of winning a championship, and I think we all know what it takes to really get to the next level.

"And I think this is a really great opportunity. You have a coach always talking about winning, how important it is to win, and you have some players who just want it. I think this year with the focus this team will have and the drive that we have to be successful, this will be our year."

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