In round one of the Joel Embiid vs. Ben Simmons matchup, the Philadelphia 76ers defeated the Brooklyn Nets in a high-scoring game. The matchup everyone came to see was delivered right away and appeared throughout the contest. In the grand scheme of the game, the Sixers held on for the win despite brilliant games from Kyrie Irving and Seth Curry.
Embiid and Simmons never took the time to jaw directly at or taunt the other but there was plenty of physical play between them. Given that Simmons was one of the Nets’ biggest players, he often found himself switching onto Embiid to avoid size mismatches. He forced him into some misses but also committed a few fouls against him.
While Embiid is certainly a physical player, it seemed like he had a little extra juice as he tried to score on Simmons. The Sixers’ big man said that he didn’t see it that way, though.
“I was not,” the Sixers superstar said when asked if he was looking to go at Simmons. “If you look at the way I play, doesn’t matter whatever matchup, every single night, whoever’s in front of me, it’s always the same aggression and it’s always the same aggression as far as trying to score the ball. Tonight, that was the same thing. Missed a lot of shots, which hasn’t happened in a while. So, I had a bad night but I’m happy we got the win.”
Embiid scored just 26 points on a woeful 6-18 shooting from the field. Tyrese Maxey, Tobias Harris and De’Anthony Melton came through with big nights, combining for 64 points on 22-35 shooting. Embiid said that he was simply looking to maintain the same mindset he always brings.
“Just like every single night, just freaking kill whoever’s in front of me,” Embiid said. “My mentality is always about scoring and if I get doubled, make the right pass. But if I get play one on one, I see an opportunity to go score, I’m gonna go score.”
Embiid stressed that tonight’s game wasn’t about him and his former co-star and that it was simply a game between the Sixers and the Nets. The Philadelphia crowd directed their animosity at Simmons often and was treated to a win from the home team.