Philadelphia 76ers

Philadelphia 76ers Ben Simmons has looked like a different player without Joel Embiid in the lineup

Ben Simmons [NBA Getty Images]

The Philadelphia 76ers edged out a close one on the road over the New York Knicks, 90-87.

The win at Madison Square Garden comes in a time of need, as the Sixers snapped their six-game losing skid away from home behind the play of Ben Simmons.


Simmons has yet to lose a game in his career at MSG with a perfect 6-0 record following Sunday's win.

The Aussie guard went for a team-high 21 points to go with eight assists, seven rebounds and two steals on 9-for-15 shooting from the field.

This continues a stretch of high-quality play from the one-time All-Star, who has taken his game to another level in the absence of star centre Joel Embiid. Embiid has missed the 76ers' last six games after getting surgery on a torn ligament in his finger, but the Sixers have stayed afloat with a 4-2 record without their All-Star big man.

While different players have stepped up each game - Al Horford, Tobias Harris, Josh Richardson and Furkan Korkmaz, to name a few - the one constant has been Simmons, who has played with much more aggression without the team's leading scorer.

Take a look at some key averages over his last six games compared to the first 36 games of the season:

It's evident Simmons has been more aggressive in looking for his own shot if you've watched the games. He's getting downhill more often and looking to score in transition more than usual. It's no secret that the 76ers play at a faster pace without Embiid in the lineup, and no individual flourishes in those situations more than their super athletic 6-foot-10 guard.

He's taking nearly four more shots a game and converting at a higher rate. The result: his scoring average has gone up. You can even see that he's crashed the glass more, particularly on the defensive end to kickstart his transition game.

While his assists per game has taken a slight dip, it's a repercussion from his scoring that you'll live with when you're missing a player that averages 23.4 points per game. The ball isn't sticking to Simmons' hands. He's just looking for his own shot more frequently.

Simmons is at his best when he can get out and run, and the 76ers are at their best when their star guard is playing with the mindset of looking to score as often as he's looking to pass.

Embiid was said to be re-evaluated in "one-to-two weeks" according to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski on Jan. 10, so expect to see more of this from Simmons for at least a couple more games.

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