Horry Scale

Horry Scale: Ben Simmons' tip sends Sixers past Spurs in OT

A savvy tip-in kept the Sixers chasing first in the East, while also sinking the Spurs down the Play-In ladder.

Ben Couch, NBA.com

Ben Simmons beats the buzzer to saddle the Spurs with a loss.

A reminder on The Horry Scale: It breaks down a game-winning buzzer-beater (GWBB) in the categories of difficulty, game situation (was the team tied or behind at the time?), importance (playoff game or garden-variety night in November?) and celebration. Then we give it an overall grade on a scale of 1-5 Robert Horrys, named for the patron saint of last-second answered prayers.

For everything Ben Simmons offers, each offseason seems to bring back a conversation about 3s and expansion of a game that — oddly for the era — doesn’t include an unlimited-range stepback from every logo in the land. And yet Simmons continues to thrive running the show on smarts and spot selection and sometimes a bit of both.

Sunday was sometimes.

Score tied, the ball was only ever going to Joel Embiid, Kia MVP candidate that he is. And as all the attention shot toward Embiid and that ill-fated turnaround, Simmons set up in the dunker spot and then snuck in behind every Spur to quick-tap the miss back into the cylinder. Bucket. Ball game.

GAME SITUATION: The Sixers somehow never trailed. But the Spurs managed to tie things up six times, most notably in the final minute of regulation, which sent the festivities into overtime after exchanged misses.

Embiid hit four free throws. The Spurs, two field goals. Turnovers and errant attempts followed. A timeout with 19.1 on the clock and everyone in the building knowing the ball was about to go to Embiid.

DIFFICULTY: Simmons was perfectly positioned for this one, and court awareness is a skill. If one were to watch those replays, it’s clear that Simmons not only tipped it ahead of the red rectangle, but also pulled his hand back this fast so there was no doubt about too long a touch. Situational awareness, also a skill.

The tip itself? About as basic a basketball play as there can be. But without being in the right spot, at the right time, simple ain’t nothing but a daydream.

CELEBRATION: Right alongside Simmons, Embiid’s hand shot into the air triumphantly, back down to dap up the man with the magic hand, and then back up again in a double raise to the heavens. The pair skipped and smiled their way to a bench-full of high fives. Fine, the former was all Embiid, but Simmons did stoically deign to return the offered hand slaps at all heights.

GRADE: The Spurs keep dropping overtime L’s, and their Play-In Tournament place could start seeming more tenuous. The Sixers keep hanging around East leader Brooklyn and that crucial No. 1 seed. Simmons saved the day, and provided a fun moment with a split-second of basketball savvy. 4 Horrys.

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