Playoffs 2021

NBA Playoffs 2021: Aggressive Ben Simmons sparks big second half for Philadelphia 76ers in Game 3

A message from Doc Rivers helped spark a big second half from Ben Simmons and the Philadelphia 76ers.

Leading by five points through two quarters, the Sixers used a 34-19 third period to break the game open.

The third quarter onslaught was sparked in the transition game, with Simmons playing a key role in the surge.

"We just thought he passed up too many opportunities, in the fast break, in the post," Rivers explained postgame.

"So we told him we're gonna come out and feature him on the post, and be aggressive, with the pass first."

"I always think when you start him out passing in the post, then he gets aggressive in the game. He was great for us. It's exactly what we need, with his pace and power, it was great."

For Simmons, the job was simple.

"I just tried to push the pace, get in the lane and find my guys. I think I did a good job of that in the second half," Simmons said.

Simmons finished the game with 18 points and seven assists, with the Australian speaking with reporters for the first time since finishing second in the Defensive Player of the Year award voting. Simmons played down the importance of winning the individual award with the greater team goal in mind.

"Congrats to Rudy. It is what it is, I'm really not concerned about individual awards, I want the championship. That's my goal. Honestly the goal was never Defensive Player of the Year, it was just go out there and do my job and try to be the best defender in the league regardless of the award."

For the second game in a row, Simmons was tasked with the role of primary defender on Trae Young, with the dynamic Hawks' guard finishing with 28 points.

"The confidence has always been there defensively. He's a smart young player so I got a lot of respect for him and every game is going to be a little different. Tonight he slowed it down, picked his spots and really attacked but I look forward to guarding the best player every night so that's my job."

Philadelphia will now look to take a commanding 3-1 lead in the series, with Game 4 to be played in Atlanta.

"This is the playoffs. Everybody is in the playoffs for a reason. This is a good team so we can't let up regardless if we are up 10, 20, 30."

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