2019 NBA Playoffs: “Average” Ben is pretty good

NBA Playoff resultsL April 19, 2019

3. Philadelphia 76ers (131) – 6. Brooklyn Nets (115)

2. Denver Nuggets (108) – 7. San Antonio Spurs (118)

1. Golden State Warriors (132) – 8. LA Clippers (105)

What happened in the Playoffs today:

1. Nets saw how good “average” really is

There’s some color developing between the Nets and Sixers.

After a dominant show in Game 2, some Sixers players took offense to Joel Embiid’s elbow to Jarrett Allen’s face as well as his laughing apology after the game. In the practice scrum before Game 3, the media naturally followed up on the Embiid’s apology and somehow Ben Simmons also got dragged into the conversation.

Jared Dudley, one of the veterans of the young Nets offered up his evaluation of Simmons’ game.

Shade was given by Dudley. Whether directly or indirectly is another discussion. So Simmons had some, more direct shade for Dudley.

Nets fans of course backed their team up. With the series shifting to Brooklyn for Game 3, it was a good chance for the Brooklyn fans to throw shade of their own.

With all this playful banter being thrown off the court, everyone was excited to see how Simmons would respond. The Sixers were playing without their All-Star center, Embiid so this was a perfect platform for Simmons to show how good he really is.

He followed up a Playoff triple-double in Game 2 with a Playoff career-high 31 points in Game 3. He had a well-rounded stat line, finishing with nine assists, two steals and three blocks. Simmons absolutely dominated the Sixers on both ends of the floor.

Just like he did in Game 2, Simmons set the pace, running the floor well and finding trailing bigs or breaking wings. But that was already expected of him. What was a surprise was how aggressive he was in half court sets. Simmons played off the ball and was cutting and rolling to the hoop, killing Brooklyn with buckets inside.

When the Nets got close in the fourth period, it was Simmons that put the game away. He scored 15 points in the fourth quarter to lead the Sixers to another rout.

With the game wrapped up, Simmons wasn’t afraid to show his evaluation of Dudley’s game.

It’s safe to say, Simmons silenced the Nets and their fans with this “average” performance.

2. KD swats a pest in Game 3

Simmons wasn’t the only one looking to send a statement in Game 3.

In the first two games of their series, the Clippers have put multiple defenders on Kevin Durant in an attempt to give him different looks. One of those defenders is the smaller Patrick Beverley.

Whatever Beverley lacked in size and skill, he always made up for in effort and physicality. Whenever he was assigned to Durant, Beverley made sure that he was all over him, sometimes, to an extreme. That’s why in Game 1, he successfully goaded Durant into a double-ejection. In Game 2, Durant was limited to just 21 points on eight shots and nine turnovers.

Before Game 3, the media asked Durant for his thoughts on the escalating war between him and Beverley.

Durant saw Beverley as a “pest” and called the Clippers defense on him “gimmicky”. In Game 3, he proved just how true those statements were.

The most complete scorer in the league put on a show in the first half of the game. He dropped 27 points on the Clippers, scoring in nearly every way possible. Durant was attacking the hoop, getting buckets on post ups, pull ups and spot ups. He torched whoever the Clippers put on him, Beverley included.

Durant finished with 38 points on 60% shooting. He only needed 30 minutes to get his numbers.

The Warriors took another 30-plus lead in the third period and had a 33-point lead heading into the final period. This time, they learned their lesson and kept their foot on the pedal. They embarrassed the Clippers on their home floor to retake home court advantage.

3. Take Note of Derrick White

If you take an inventory of the best players in the Nuggets-Spurs series, Derrick White wouldn’t make it to the Top 5. But the third year guard who was forced to step into the starting role midway through the season, is showing just how good he really is.

In the first two games of this year’s Playoffs, he averaged 16.5 points on 66.3% shooting. He broke out in Game 3, leading the Spurs to a crucial win.

White exploded for 36 points on 71% shooting. He Had 10 points in the first quarter and 26 points in the first half, already a Playoff career-high. He just continued to ball until the final buzzer and because of that the Spurs are now up 2-1 on the second-seeded Nuggets.

This is just another example of San Antonio pulling another potential All-Star from out of nowhere. Don’t believe Pop and the Spurs when they give you their evaluation of a certain player.

Photo from Getty Images