Fri. Dec 2nd, 2022

A lively 76ers team without Joel Embiid and James Harden defeated the Brooklyn Nets 115-106 on Tuesday night, ruining Ben Simmons’ return to Philadelphia.

Improved since his Nets career got off to a bad start, Simmons was booed with 11 points, 11 assists and 7 rebounds. Kyrie Irving scored 23 points and Kevin Durant scored 20 points, while coach Jacque Vaughn drew the starting eleven with three minutes to go.

The match, which was expected to be away due to Embiid Harden’s injury, was overshadowed. That means Embiid v Simmons will have to wait. But the Simmons v 76ers fans were pretty good.

The Australian was bored, committing a blatant foul, silencing the crowd at the layup, and even Jordan shrugged after making the free throws. Crucial for a player struggling with mental health issues, Simmons played well while being booed for most of his 32 minutes on the court.

He already had three assists when he went to the free throw line early in the game. Simmons was booed but never looked shaken and sank both baskets. Minutes later, Simmons made a reverse layup for his first bucket.

Sixers fans had a few short-lived “Fuck Me Simmons!” hymnody. But mostly they hid the four-letter words as tape on the back of their old number 25 jerseys.

Before the game, Simmons said he expected a hostile reception in Philly. “I can’t worry about everyone’s feelings,” said Simmons. “At the end of the day, I’m not here to make everyone happy.”

Simmons and sophomore Sixer Georges Niang struggled late in the first half, with Niang giving his former teammate a slightly stiff arm to the body that earned him a technical foul. Harden couldn’t believe the call from the bench. Sixers owner Josh Harris looked horrified. Simmons missed the technical free throw and the stands roared as they did the entire game. Still, Simmons hit the field for a steal and hit Durant for a bucket of the free ball.

It wasn’t all mockery, it was all play. Simmons caused 76ers fans to go crazy when he missed consecutive free throws in the second half and triggered the free fast-food chicken promotion.

Simmons averaged 15.9 points, 8.1 rebounds and 7.7 assists in four seasons with Philadelphia, who picked him #1 in the general classification from LSU, where he played only one season. His problems, such as his refusal to shoot beyond 15 feet, outweighed his normally skilled defensive and playmaking abilities. Simmons’ relationship with the Sixers deteriorated after the 2021 playoffs and he requested a trade.

Simmons made a surprise return to the Sixers shortly before the opening of last season, but was immediately kicked out of practice and suspended for a game. Punishment was not important; The #1 pick of the 2016 draft never had any intention of playing. And he never played for the Sixers again.

Playing against them on Tuesday seemed much more fun.