Playoffs 2021

NBA Playoffs 2021: Unleashing Ben Simmons on Trae Young has gotten the Philadelphia 76ers back on track

Adjustment made.

After the Game 1 loss to the Atlanta Hawks, Philadelphia 76ers guard Ben Simmons declared his intent to guard Trae Young moving forward.

"If the refs ain't going to call so many fouls, I can be physical and be 6-10, then I'll be 6-10. But we'll see," Simmons told reporters.

"Obviously, Trae is very talented. He's crafty and he's not a selfish player. So he's going to find his guys when he is open. At the same time, he is looking for his. So a lot of respect to him."

"But I am looking to come in there and see if I can be a little more physical next game and see if the refs are going to let us play a little bit."

After seeing the bulk of his minutes defended by Danny Green in Game 1, Simmons was unleashed on the dynamic guard during Philadelphia's 118-102 win to level the series at 1-1 heading back to Atlanta.

Young finished with 21 points and 11 assists but was just 6-for-16 from the floor and 1-for-7 from beyond the arc.

"I thought Ben played terrific defence and he did it without fouling," Philadelphia head coach Doc Rivers said.

Plays spent guarding Trae Young (stats via The Ringer's Kevin O'Connor + Second Spectrum)
Game 1 Game 2
Ben Simmons 8 31
Matisse Thybulle 14 29
Danny Green 49 2

The utilization of Simmons and backcourt defensive terror Matisse Thybulle on Young was used in combination with more switching from the outset, in an adjustment designed to limit the impact of Young's dribble penetration that caused havoc in Game 1.

"What Trae wants to do is go downhill and we felt like switching would at least flatten him out. Even if he beats our guys it would give us time to adjust and be in our help positions. In Game 1 he was going downhill so quickly that we decided to switch and I thought that had some impact for us."

The size and length of Simmons and Thybulle continuously forced Young into difficult shots, limiting his effectiveness in a move we should expect to see more of going forward.

Atlanta completed their mission of stealing home court ahead of Game 3, but now they need to figure out how to solve the Simmons problem.

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