“We’re fortunate,” Jimmy Butler said, even though his No. 3-seeded Sixers dropped the series opener to the No. 6-seeded Nets 111-102 on Saturday. “We get to play basketball every day. We’re in the playoffs. We’re the 3-seed. We’re happy. It could be a lot worse. We could be down 0-4, but we’re not. So we’re not going to worry about it, man. We’re going into this bad baby [Monday] thinking we’re going to win.”
By Harry Allison
And Sixers All-Star guard Simmons tried to shine up his idiotic comments criticizing the fans who booed his woeful performance:
“It’s Philly. That’s what’s going to happen,” Simmons said. “I mean, I love it. That’s how Philly is. If you can play or you can’t, they’re going to give you the s—, talk s—, it is what it is. If you’re not playing well, they’re going to let you know. But, I mean, I love being here. I love the fans here. I wouldn’t want to be in a place where they didn’t really care or only showed up when times were going well. So, I mean, a few years ago, we were winning 10 games.”
Coach Brett Brown said he expects much better performances from Simmons, Tobias Harris and JJ Redick as the series goes on. The three of them combined for just 18 points on 8-of-23 shooting in the opener.
“JJ, Tobias and Ben, they had down games. There is more room to grow there,” Brown said. “There’s lots to be excited about.”
Simmons, who could see some time at the 5 if Embiid is sidelined, clamored for more post touches in Game 2. “I would love to be put there,” he said.
Then he made a point to call out the Nets players who will be tasked with defending him.
“I think I could be more aggressive,” Simmons said. “I got [Jared] Dudley and the other kid guarding me, so I got to be more aggressive attacking them.”
The “other kid” Simmons was referring to is presumably Treveon Graham. Simmons shot 1-for-1 with Graham on him in Game 1 but just 1-for-5 when Dudley was his primary defender, according to data compiled by ESPN Stats & Information.
Brown said being down 0-1 is a fact of life sometimes in the postseason, citing that Denver and Toronto were also upset Saturday. It’s just about finding a way to be the first team to four wins and moving on, he said.
“Nobody accepts what happened yesterday,” he said. “You look around the league, three scalps were had by visiting teams. And it’s just part of, ‘How do you win four games?’ And so much of it for me over the years is, ‘How do you have that psychological stability where you don’t overreact?’ Where you’re at peace in some place within yourself, where you’re solid and steady, and you’re not up and down all the time and the playoffs can trick you.
“Family’s in town. The media is out at its pinnacle. And you have to ignore the noise. You really have to live in a place that is not distracting.”