PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The Sixers did a few things in their opening NBA first-round playoff win over the Miami Heat, when they won handily 130-103. It was the most points scored by a Sixers’ team in the playoffs since they dropped 134 on the then-Washington Bullets on April 27, 1986.
The 27-point difference was the Sixers’ largest margin of victory in a playoff game since they beat the Toronto Raptors on May 16, 2001. And the Sixers 50 rebounds and 34 assists were their most in a playoff game since they went up 2-0 on the Portland Trail Blazers on May 26, 1977 in the NBA Finals.
At the hub of all of that success Ben Simmons, who scored 17 points, had 14 assists and 9 rebounds in the Sixers’ first playoff win since May 23, 2012, when they beat the Boston Celtics in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference semifinals. Simmons is—and will be—at the eye of everything for this team if they plan on winning their first NBA championship since 1983. The 6-10 lefty point guard continues to amaze, even in the playoffs.
The Sixers chewed up a lot of dreck on their 16-game winning streak to close the season. But Miami isn’t exactly trash. The Heat have some quality players, and a quality coach in Erik Spoelstra. They knew what they had to do against the Sixers—and that was to impede Simmons any way they could.
And they didn’t.
The question is right now, can anyone?
Simmons is averaging 14.5 points, 9.5 assists and 9.7 rebounds a game over his last 10 games. He’s only 21, though plays with the confidence and flair of a seasoned 10-year NBA veteran.
He’s too large for a normal-sized NBA guard to cover, and too fast and quick for a forward or center to match up against. Some are comparing Simmons to Magic Johnson, but we’re going to hold off and reserve judgment on that right now, unless Simmons plays center, runs the point, mixes in some outside jumpers and basically beats whoever is front of the Sixers to win an NBA championship—like Magic did to the Sixers his rookie year in Game 6 of the NBA in 1980.
Simmons is no doubt special. More will need to be accomplished before anyone puts him in the Magic Johnson realm.