76ers coach Brett Brown wants Ben Simmons taking at least one 3-pointer a game moving forward | Simmons made the second 3-pointer of his career on Saturday


                        76ers coach Brett Brown wants Ben Simmons taking at least one 3-pointer a game moving forward

76ers coach Brett Brown wants Ben Simmons taking at least one 3-pointer a game moving forward

76ers coach Brett Brown wants Ben Simmons taking at least one 3-pointer a game moving forward

76ers coach Brett Brown wants Ben Simmons taking at least one 3-pointer a game moving forward

76ers coach Brett Brown wants Ben Simmons taking at least one 3-pointer a game moving forward

76ers coach Brett Brown wants Ben Simmons taking at least one 3-pointer a game moving forward
76ers coach Brett Brown wants Ben Simmons taking at least one 3-pointer a game moving forward
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Ben Simmons tied his career high with 34 points in the Sixers' 141-94 blowout over the Cavs on Saturday, and in the process he knocked down the second 3-pointer of his career. Obviously, this was, and is, a big deal. Simmons' lack of shooting is arguably the only thing in the way of his becoming a top-five player in the league and the Sixers becoming a championship favorite. 

The Sixers want Simmons shooting these shots. They know he has to shoot them -- not necessarily make a ton of them, but shoot them at least -- for them to get where they believe they have the talent to go. Simmons looks and says he feels comfortable with his shot. Indeed, this looks pretty good:

For those who haven't had the privilege of standing in a scrum of reporters listening to Sixers coach Brett Brown talk, it's a treat. You are not going to get the canned answers you get from a lot of coaches. And he's not going to cut you short. You ask a basic question, you are very likely going to get anything but a basic response. He'll be colorful. He'll be specific and detailed. Naturally, Brown was asked about Simmons' shooting on Saturday, same as he's been being asked about it for the past two years. 

Per ESPN's Tim Bontempts, Brown made it clear he wants Simmons to shoot one 3-pointer per game, at a minimum, moving forward. From ESPN:

"This is what I want," Brown said, "and you can pass it along to his agent, his family and friends. I want a 3-point shot a game, minimum. The pull-up 2s ... I'm fine with whatever is open. But I'm interested in the 3-point shot. The mentality that he has where he's turning corners and taking that long step, that gather step, and bringing his shoulders to the rim and trying to dunk or finish tight, will equal higher efficiency, or getting fouled. That's the world that interests me the most. Those two things."

This is nothing new, that Brown wants Simmons playing the modern game -- which aims for threes, layups/dunks and free throws. But putting a number on it, saying one 3-pointer per game, at a minimum, makes it real. It's not a standard "Ben will shoot more threes when he's ready" escape comment. It's tangible. Brown also said he wants Simmons shooting eight free throws a game, which should come from those corner turning, square-shouldered drives Brown referenced. 

Again, per ESPN:

"The drama of it is overblown," Brown said. "The reality [is] that he can shoot and it's ultimately going to need to come into his game in a pronounced way from an attempt standpoint, that's not overblown. I think the drama surrounding it is completely overblown. When I put on my coaching hat and I'm looking at a 23-year-old young man trying to grow his game, it's completely, first, in his wheelhouse. And, secondly, he will be liberated. His world will open up.

"And I think, in many ways, so will ours."

The decision-makers of the New York Knicks are ghosting their team

The decision-makers of the New York Knicks are ghosting their team

NEW YORK -- Before the New York Knicks and Indiana Pacers faced off at Madison Square Garden on Saturday night, Mike Miller -- the man tapped to replace David Fizdale as New York's interim coach -- walked into the news conference room in Madison Square Garden, placed both hands on the wooden podium and addressed reporters.

The men who fired Fizdale -- team president Steve Mills and general manager Scott Perry -- did not.

Miller opened with diplomatic pleasantries saying, "I would like to thank coach Fiz for the opportunity to be a part of his staff." He was asked why the decision to fire Fizdale was made Friday. He was asked what the players thought about it. He declined to answer those questions.

In truth, Miller wasn't the man to answer those questions. Those who were -- Mills and Perry -- decided not to.

The normal thing to do when a front office fires a coach is to explain why the decision was made, and what will happen next.

This, though, is The Garden -- where abnormal things happen.

So Mills and Perry decided they need not address the media Saturday evening -- despite the fact the two of them made the surprising decision to hold a press conference after a blowout loss at home to the Cleveland Cavaliers last month. That press conference, one source within the organization said, all but marked the end of Fizdale's tenure.

All that was left to be determined was when he would be fired. That turned out to be Friday -- but only after Fizdale oversaw a practice, spoke to the media and said hello to Mills and Perry in front of the cameras.

It was all just another reminder of how the Knicks have spent the past two decades lurching from one self-inflicted mess to another under James Dolan's ownership -- all while turning the league's most valuable franchise into one of its biggest laughingstocks.

After Miller was done, the locker room opened, and it was the players' turn to explain Fizdale's firing from their vantage point. Taj Gibson and RJ Barrett said the front office called them to notify them of the coaching change. Gibson said that Fizdale teared up when the two hugged goodbye.

The morning before Fizdale was fired, Marcus Morris Sr. gathered the team for a players only meeting. The meeting, Morris said, was about "the direction we're trying to go as a team."

The players said they also discussed ways that they could alleviate some of the pressure on Fizdale. 22-year-old Dennis Smith Jr. -- who was acquired in the front office's deal to send out Kristaps Porzingis to the Dallas Mavericks in February -- said that the team felt they could've done more to help their former coach hang onto his job longer.

"We didn't want it to all fall on him," Smith Jr. said. "We talked about that actually, we gotta start taking responsibility. It's not 100 percent all him. It's tough."

Morris Sr. added: "Fiz is the type of guy that stands in front of everything. That's why I looked up to him a lot."

Fizdale was fired hours after the players' discussion concluded. Julius Randle represents this team's marquee offseason acquisition; he had to speak on an early season coaching change as well.

"Fiz was a great person, great human being, great coach. It is tough, but we have a long season ahead. We have to keep moving along," Randle said.

Once the game began on Saturday, Dolan took his customary seat on the baseline next to the New York bench and folded his arms across his chest.

The Knicks had a chance to win the game despite trailing Indiana by 11 points in the fourth quarter. New York's defense didn't allow the Pacers to score in the final 5 minutes and 17 seconds. Randle, who was fouled with 0.1 seconds remaining in regulation, had a chance to force the game into overtime. He made his first free throw, and the Knicks players that had been sitting on the bench rose to their feet and put their arms around each other in silent prayer.

In the end, as Dolan has so many times over the past two decades, he proceeded to watch Randle's second free throw bounce off the back iron to seal a New York loss.

"It is pretty difficult. We played hard. We gave them everything we had. Came up short," Randle said after the Knicks missed 14 of their last 16 shots in the 104-103 loss.

Now, after a day and night when the Knicks did nothing to address their future, the wait begins for them to do so.

76ers coach wants Simmons taking one 3 a game

76ers coach wants Simmons taking one 3 a game

PHILADELPHIA -- What would Brett Brown like for Christmas? One 3-point shot per game from his All-Star point guard.

After his Philadelphia 76ers routed the hapless Cleveland Cavaliers 141-94 at the Wells Fargo Center on Saturday night, Brown was asked about Ben Simmons taking -- and making -- his second 3-pointer of both the season and his career.

And, in response, Brown said he'd like to see Simmons take at least one of them a game -- every game -- moving forward.

"This is what I want," Brown said, ''and you can pass it along to his agent, his family and friends. I want a 3-point shot a game, minimum. The pull-up 2s ... I'm fine with whatever is open. But I'm interested in the 3-point shot. The mentality that he has where he's turning corners and taking that long step, that gather step, and bringing his shoulders to the rim and trying to dunk or finish tight, will equal higher efficiency, or getting fouled. That's the world that interests me the most. Those two things."

When Simmons made his second career 3-pointer in the second quarter, the game was already well out of reach, with the Sixers going up by 40 points in the first half and over 50 at times in the second while spending the final 24 minutes on cruise control. Philadelphia's win, along with Dallas' 46-point rout of New Orleans earlier Saturday, marked the first time in NBA history two teams won by at least 45 points on the same day, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

But on a night that was spent almost exclusively waiting for the final buzzer to sound, the sight of Simmons cleanly and calmly catching in the corner in front of Cleveland's bench, rising up and burying a triple was the one meaningful moment to come out of it.

"I'm getting more comfortable," Simmons said after scoring a career-high 34 points to lead the Sixers, who are now 11-0 at home heading into Sunday's game here against their Atlantic Division rivals, the Toronto Raptors. "Obviously, throughout time I'm getting more comfortable with the game, and just learning my spots. And just adjusting."

What hasn't adjusted is the reaction to Simmons making a 3-pointer from the hometown fans. Like when he made one in the preseason, as well as the one he made against the Knicks, the crowd erupted after he hit it, and fans yelled at him to shoot more 3s during the game.

That Simmons has succeeded as much as he has without a 3-point shot thus far -- he won Rookie of the Year in 2018, made an All-Star team last season and signed a max contract extension with Philadelphia this summer -- is an indication of his natural talent level.

And while the fan reaction to him making a simple catch-and-shoot corner 3 is over the top, there is no arguing the importance of that shot to a Sixers team that is desperate for any kind of shooting it can get.

"The drama of it is overblown," Brown said. "The reality [is] that he can shoot and it's ultimately going to need to come into his game in a pronounced way from an attempt standpoint, that's not overblown. I think the drama surrounding it is completely overblown. When I put on my coaching hat and I'm looking at a 23-year-old young man trying to grow his game, it's completely, first, in his wheelhouse. And, secondly, he will be liberated. His world will open up.

"And I think, in many ways, so will ours."


                        Ben Simmons hits another 3-pointer, ties career high with 34 points as Sixers decimate Cavs

Ben Simmons hits another 3-pointer, ties career high with 34 points as Sixers decimate Cavs

Years after the Sixers tanked their way to drafting him in the first place, Ben Simmons is undergoing his own kind of process as an actual real-life NBA shooter. After not making a single 3-pointer through his first two years in the league, or really any kind of jump shot for that matter, Simmons got Sixers fans excited with summer videos showing him draining shot after shot in pick-up games. 

On Nov. 20, Simmons finally hit the first 3-pointer of his career. It came against the Knicks, which feels so fitting in so many ways. Anything -- and I mean anything -- is possible when the Knicks are involved. 

Now, it's happened again. On Saturday night, Simmons cashed in from the corner for the second 3-pointer of his career during the Sixers' 141-94 annihilation of the Cavs. 

Say what you want about Simmons, to this point in his career, being gun shy or even shooting with the wrong hand, but that shot looks comfortable. It looks repeatable, at least given that much space. It's a slow grind, obviously, but every time Simmons hits a perimeter shot, especially a three, it's going to be a big deal because shooting is the only thing holding him back from being one of the best players in the world. 

Simmons also hit this nice fadeaway off one foot on Saturday:

That's not a conventional jumper, and Simmons has at least shown flashes of being halfway comfortable in this range in the past, particularly when fading away. But it's still progress, if only from a confidence standpoint. Because that's all this is. Confidence. Simmons isn't going to turn into Klay Thompson, but he can clearly shoot a basketball from a functional standpoint. It's just a matter of willingness. 

Simmons' offense has been so-so overall this season. His unwillingness to shoot is still a huge problem for the Sixers' spacing, and one shot doesn't change that. But he's getting there. Simmons tied a career-high 34 points against Cleveland on Saturday, and all season long his defense has been exemplary. 

Most importantly, the Sixers are 16-7. They're not playing great. The top of the East is a lot better than the perception. But Philly is right there, and if Simmons can slowly add a even a few jumpers to his arsenal here and there, I still think they'll be right there with the Bucks as the best team in the East come playoff time. 

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