By Jerry Wein
Sixers coach Doc Rivers played Ben Simmons at center during one stretch of Friday night’s win at Indy, and it backfired.
The win pushed the 76ers’ preseason record to 2-0, but Doc was not happy with his small-ball lineup yet:
“We didn’t know what to do. I thought that was our worst stint of the game. It should have been a great one for us, and we didn’t take advantage of a lot of things.”
The 6-10 Simmons has the height and athleticism to man the interior, he is better off suited handling the rock as a massive point-forward type of player ala LeBron James.
Plus, Doc’s curious decision also goes against his earlier sentiments, claiming he wanted to move Simmons back to his natural position as the team’s primary playmaker. Ousted Sixers head coach Brett Brown also tried this ploy last season which ended badly for the team.
However, the stipulations on Friday night did force Doc’s hand a bit. Center Joel Embiid sat out the ball game, while newly acquired slotman Dwight Howard started out strong but was hobbled by foul trouble. Luckily for the Sixers, they bounced back nicely in the second half and preserved the victory. Simmons put up nine points, eight assists, and five rebounds in 26 minutes.
Doc Rivers, meanwhile, likely learned from his failed experiment on Friday. Hopefully, Simmons sees more reps as the Sixers’ center before being deployed again during the regular season, which begins on December 23 against the Wiz.