Clutch Defense Clinches Victory Over Indiana

by Brian Seltzer Reporter


Why don't we talk about this a bit more:

One month into Ben Simmons' third NBA season, the 23-year old is playing elite, All-League level defense. 

And at no point of this young 2019-20 campaign has this development shown up in a more pressure-packed, condensed spot than in Saturday's 119-116 victory over the Indiana Pacers. 

After Indiana took a 114-113 lead in the final minute of regulation on three free throws from T.J. Warren, the Sixers turned the ball over, and desperately needed a stop to keep hopes for a third straight victory alive. 

Enter Simmons. 

His defensive heroics began when he jumped a passing lane to intercept a pass by Warren, the swipe triggering a go-ahead runout jam for Tobias Harris. 

The Pacers then called time, but when they broke the huddle, there was Simmons again, this time clawing the ball away on Indiana's sideline in-bounds play. 

The Pacers were forced to put Harris at the line, and the veteran delivered again, giving the Sixers some insurance at 117-114. 

From there, the Pacers and Sixers proceeded to trade free throws, before Simmons capped the evening by grabbing a desperation heave from Indiana at midcourt as time expired. 

For those of you counting at home, that made it three steals for Simmons in the final 13.9 seconds of regulation. He finished with four overall, while helping the Sixers preserve their perfect home record, which now stands at 9-0. 

With 15 points, Simmons was one of five starters to reach double-figures in scoring. Joel Embiid continued his recent tear, topping all players with 32 points and 11 rebounds. 

The big man - and the Sixers (which went 32-36 from the free throw line) - once again reaped the rewards from his physical play, going to the foul stripe 15 times. He made all 15 of his shots. 

Harris came up large as well. He tallied 14 of his 22 points in the fourth frame for his seventh 20-point outing of the season. 

For as terrific as Simmons was in crunch time, his defense was stout - and versatile - the entire evening. At various junctures of Saturday's game, he guarded guards, defended centers, and put pressure on wings. 

There was also this fantastic chasedown block as the third period was coming to a close.

Despite missing Josh Richardson (right hamstring) for a second straight contest, the Sixers prevailed. With Simmons leading the way, they forced Indiana into a season-high 20 turnovers, which the Sixers converted for 23 points. 

Click here for a complete box score. 

@Sixers Social:

The colors might be different, but the grit will always be appreciated.

Up Next:

The 76ers will wrap up their two-game regular season series with the Utah Jazz Monday at The Center. The Sixers dropped a close one in Salt Lake City, 106-104, earlier in the season.

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