More Maxey Minutes? Is Simmons Criticism Fair? More Sixers notes
The Sixers practiced Tuesday afternoon ahead of Game 2 vs. the Wizards Wednesday at the Wells Fargo Center.
Here are a few notes on Tyrese Maxey, George Hill and reaction to the recent criticism of Ben Simmons.
More Maxey Minutes?
If not for Seth Curry taking a shot to the stomach late in the first half, Tyrese Maxey may not have gotten on the floor in Game 1.
But to the rookie’s credit, he made the most of his opportunity in six minutes. He earned an and-one on a drive on his first NBA playoff touch. Maxey showing his ability to get downhill earned the 20-year-old second-half minutes.
And perhaps more minutes going forward.
“He’s going to keep earning more [minutes] would be my guess,” Doc Rivers said after practice Tuesday. “Getting downhill in this series is very important and he’s one of the guys that can do that.”
Maxey played just six minutes Sunday but made an impact in that brief time. As Rivers illuded to, Maxey’s ability to get to the basket is something this team could use more of, especially against a team that’s vulnerable at the rim.
Not only has Maxey earned the trust of his coach but the Sixers’ veterans have really taken a shine to the young guard. It’s a credit to the work Maxey has put in.
“[Maxey] has a good balance of humbleness and trying to learn and a great work ethic,” Curry said, “but at the same time, he’s really confident. In practice he’s listening to us, working hard, and when you get out there and scrimmage as a team he competes with the starters and the veterans like he belongs and that shows when he gets in a game.”
Hill Proving His Worth
George Hill has never been an All-Star. He’s never won an NBA championship. You likely won’t see him in the Sixers’ starting lineup.
But in Sunday’s Game 1 win over the Wizards, Hill showed you exactly what he is: A damn good basketball player that can help the Sixers win games.
"It was something that we targeted early in the season,” Rivers said Tuesday, “that we needed one more veteran guard with this group. Because we like our young guards, too. The only way they can become veterans is by throwing them in the fire and getting them some experience. …
“… Not only is [Hill] a veteran … he’s relaxed and calm out on the floor that I think his voice has been great for everyone, but especially our young guys.”
Nothing in the box score will blow you away about Hill. He scored 11 points (5 of 8), hit a three and added a pair of assists and rebounds. Yet, he played more minutes than any of Rivers’ reserves – and for good reason.
Hill’s ability to fit in any lineup is a tremendous asset for Rivers. We saw Hill lead the second unit. We also saw him assimilate into a lineup with mostly starters.
Some in Philadelphia may not have realized the impact Hill would make.
But Danny Green, who’s known Hill since they were together in San Antonio in 2010-11, was acutely aware of the impact Hill makes.
“He’s another ball handler for us, can knock down a three for us,” Green said postgame Sunday. “He’s aggressive. Him scoring 11 points in 18 minutes is what we needed from our bench.
“Defensively, he’s one of those guys that can guard multiple positions. He can guard [Russell Westbrook], he can guard [Bradley Beal]. He’s not as big of a guard, but he makes up for it with his length, his arms, his activity, and how he gets into bodies and how physical he is. He’s another guy that can help us switch and you see we had him in the game for offensive and defensive purposes. … He guarded Davis Bertans – [he’s] 6-10 and can shoot it.
“He gives us another weapon when we need it down the stretch, for sure.”
And that’s the beauty of what Hill brings – he can do a little bit of everything. He can shoot and score, he can create off the dribble, he can run a pick-and-roll, but, perhaps most importantly, he can play defense.
Rivers used Hill late in Game 1 as a defensive sub for Seth Curry. The move paid off as Hill was able to challenge a corner three from Bertans late in the game – Bertans hit the side of the backboard. As Green pointed out, it allows the Sixers to be more switchable with their guards as well.
It’s all why Daryl Morey made the move to acquire Hill.
“I’m just a man here doing my job,” Hill said. “I love to compete. I love to win. To come here and be a part of this organization that has so much history, this city that has so much passion for its sports, it’s a blessing, first of all. Second of all, I’m just here to do my job the best I can.”
Ben Simmons recorded 15 assists and 15 rebounds Sunday. The only other player in franchise history to record those numbers in a playoff game is Wilt Chamberlain. The 15 assists were the second-highest in postseason franchise history, trailing only Maurice Cheeks and Allen Iverson (16).
Yet a loud minority chose to focus on Simmons scoring just six points while going 3 of 9 from the field and 0 of 6 from the line.
Rivers was effusive in his praise for Simmons Sunday. His message to the critics was similar on Tuesday.
“If you guys don’t know the treasure you have by now [in Simmons], then shame on everyone,” Rivers said. “He’s been fantastic for us. He creates points every single night for us. When Ben was on the floor [Sunday], we were really good.
“I’m amazed that people don’t see what he does. We’re so caught up in the amount of points you score. [We scored 125 points] – if Ben scored all 125, would we be mad that Joel [Embiid] didn’t score? Who cares who scores as long as we’re scoring.”
Hill, a veteran of 13 years, has played with players like LeBron James and Giannis Antetokounmpo that have received scrutiny despite their impact.
He had a clear message for Simmons and his critics.
“I love Ben’s game,” Hill said, “but what I can say is he shouldn’t give two craps about what you guys say, what other people say or the media say, what other people on the outside looking in say. He has a job here and he does a great job doing it. …
“… He’s scoring six points [but adding] 15 assists and 15 rebounds, if anyone else does that you guys are congratulating him and letting him know he had a great game.”
Admittedly, Simmons missing six free throws is troubling. The Wizards could look to exploit Simmons’ struggles at the line if a game in this series gets close.
But Simmons is not a scorer. If you’re expecting him to be, you’ll be nothing but disappointed. Joel Embiid and Tobias Harris are the scorers. Danny Green and Curry are the shooters. Simmons’ job is to set those players up to fill their roles.
He did that Sunday, generating 42 points off assists. He also played exceptional defense on Beal, the NBA’s second-leading scorer this season.
It’s fair to criticize Simmons’ difficulties at the line, but that shouldn’t come at the cost of recognizing his overall impact on winning.