Philadelphia 76ers

Without Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons and the Philadelphia 76ers are slowing down and defending their way to wins

Ben Simmons celebrated being named the NBA Eastern Conference Player of the Week by tying his career-high 34 points, 12 rebounds and 12 assists for his fourth triple-double of the season in a 117-111 76ers win over the Brooklyn Nets.

Including the playoffs, it was the Aussie's 28th career triple-double.

"Just trying to win," Simmons said after the win. "I know Joel (Embiid) is out so a lot of guys got to step up.

"I take a lot of responsibility in that just being a leader and offensively I gotta pick it up so I'm glad we can get this win."

Simmons has stepped up big time in Joel Embiid's absences further strengthening his argument to be an All-Star in 2020.

The last time he had 34 points was earlier this season in a 140-94 blowout win over the Cleveland Cavaliers - again the 76ers were without Joel Embiid.

Since Embiid has gone down the 76ers have transformed into a different team. Most expected the 76ers to speed up the tempo and run more without the big man, the opposite has happened and they've slowed it down.

Over the six games prior to Monday's win, Philadelphia had a pace of 95.42 - only the Charlotte Hornets played at a slower pace during that time. Their offensive rating? Bottom five of the league at 104.9.

The 76ers, however, have turned to their suffocating defence to keep them afloat without Embiid. Philly holds the second-best defensive rating in their six games prior to Monday's victory. Only the Milwaukee Bucks has had a better defence during that time per NBA Stats.

Without Embiid the 76ers have turned to a defensive lineup of Simmons, Matisse Thybulle, Al Horford, Tobias Harris and Josh Richardson. That five has a defensive rating of 100.5 this season and a pace of 98.66 according to NBA Stats - playoff style of basketball.

Philadelphia now turned their attention to the Toronto Raptors on Thursday. A game they'll need to get as they continue to jockey for position in the tough Eastern Conference.

The views on this page do not necessarily represent the views of the NBA or its clubs.

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