The Nets were on the front end of a back-to-back on Wednesday night, playing the Bucks in Milwaukee. Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant combined to score 50 points, but it wasn’t enough to avoid a 1-3 start. Brooklyn ended up losing by a score of 110-99.
Ben Simmons was on the floor for 34 minutes. While he only scored four points, he also added five rebounds, two steals, and nine assists. It’s the third straight game he’s racked up at least eight assists.
There were two things in particular that people wanted to talk about regarding Simmons after the loss, though.
One was Giannis Antetokounmpo having his way with him in the paint, followed by a “too small” celebration:
Giannis said Ben is "too small" ?
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) October 27, 2022
It probably didn’t matter who guarded Antetokounmpo on Wednesday — nobody was stopping that man. In 38 minutes, the Greek Freak scored a game-high 43 points to go along with 14 rebounds, five assists, one steal, and three blocks.
The other viral moment from this game was Simmons getting the ball in the paint. Instead of going up for a layup himself, he kicked it back out to Durant, who made the bucket. What went viral was Kyrie yelling at Ben to shoot the ball before he passed it:
“SHOOT IT BEN!”
Kyrie Irving is begging Ben Simmons to shoot the ball ? pic.twitter.com/gXGlCtB4QJ
— Complex Sports (@ComplexSports) October 27, 2022
After a long layoff, Simmons is clearly still trying to get comfortable on the court again. When you don’t play for a while, the game feels pretty fast when you finally get back on the floor.
Irving was asked about Simmons after the game during his post-game media availability. He’s already had enough of those questions despite being just four games into the season:
"You guys keep coming in here and asking me, 'What about Ben? What about Ben?' He hasn't played in two years. Give him a f***ing chance. … We're just here to give him positive affirmations."
—Kyrie Irving on Ben Simmons pic.twitter.com/AnvMrYoA2W
— NBA on ESPN (@ESPNNBA) October 27, 2022
This is spot on. Simmons already knows he’s struggling and is trying to get himself acclimated. It’s not going to help if his teammates start talking about it with the press. This is the first opportunity Ben has had to play with Irving, Durant, and the rest of his Nets teammates.
Between the start of the regular season and the preseason, they’ve been on the floor together for eight games. As Kyrie said, it’s going to take time for everyone to gel and learn how to win as a squad.
Obviously, they’d like for that to happen sooner rather than later. The Nets don’t need to dig too big of a hole before they start to climb out of it.