Doc Rivers backing Ben Simmons amidst scoring struggles

Ben Simmons 76ers
Ben Simmons has averaged just over eight points per game over his last three contests.
Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Philadelphia 76ers All-Star guard Ben Simmons isn’t normally a scoring force. That’s been evident since his arrival in the NBA as he’s averaged 16.2 points per game over his three-plus seasons.

Over his last six games, however, Simmons’ scoring influence has been nearly non-existent, averaging 10.2 points to go with 7.3 rebounds and 5.3 assists per game while shooting 40% from the field. That final figure is well off his career field-goal percentage of 55.8%.

Simmons was limited to just seven points in Philadelphia’s 116-100 loss to the Memphis Grizzlies on Sunday, just three days removed from a five-point effort in Cleveland against the Cavaliers.

With Joel Embiid working on his return from a knee injury, that kind of production hasn’t been enough as the Sixers are 2-3 over their last five games while allowing the high-powered Brooklyn Nets to hang around for the top spot in the Eastern Conference.

Yet head coach Doc Rivers went to bat for Simmons after their Sunday loss to Memphis as he tried to put everything in perspective.

“I think Ben’s a facilitator,” Rivers said. “I think that’s what he does. I thought he did great early on, and after that, I thought they all got tired. As the game went on, less and less driving happened. I think [the media] is way more concerned about him scoring than I am.”

That may be true, as the onus of the 76ers’ scoring offense has never been put on his shoulders. Plus, his facilitating numbers — most notably his 7.2 assists per game — are right on the mark for what he’s normally put up during his career.

“I think Ben does so many things for this team to help us win,” Rivers said. “Scoring is just, I’m telling you, the last thing that I’m concerned about.”

The Boston Celtics are up next for the Sixers on Tuesday night (7:30 p.m. ET).

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