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Sixers have Ben Simmons’ back amid growing criticism for his lack of scoring and poor foul shooting

"If you guys don’t know the treasure you have by now, then shame on everyone because he’s been [fantastic] for us,” coach Doc Rivers said.

Ben Simmons runs the Sixers offense.
Ben Simmons runs the Sixers offense.Read moreYONG KIM / Staff Photographer

A reporter mentioned to 76ers coach Doc Rivers Tuesday that a lot has been made about Ben Simmons scoring just six points while finishing with 15 rebounds and 15 assists against the Washington Wizards in Game 1 of the opening-round of the NBA Eastern Conference playoff series.

“Only in Philadelphia,” Rivers said in jest before the reporter finished.

The reporter asked for the coach’s reaction to people’s criticism for Simmons’ performance.

“Honestly I have zero reaction,” Rivers said. “I really do. Like if you guys don’t know the treasure you have by now, then shame on everyone because he’s been [fantastic] for us.”

The coach has consistently said all season that he couldn’t care less about Simmons scoring points. Rivers wasn’t about to switch up heading into Wednesday’s Game 2 game at the Wells Fargo Center.

» READ MORE: Ben Simmons joins Wilt Chamberlain as only Sixers with at least 15 rebounds and 15 assists in a playoff game

He talked about how Simmons “creates points every single night” for the Sixers.

“When Ben was the on the floor, we were really good,” Rivers said of Sunday’s 125-118 Game 1 victory. “And I’m amazed that people don’t see what he does. We are so caught up in the amount of points he scored. We scored [125] points.

“If Ben had all 125, would we be mad that Joel [Embiid] didn’t score? Like, who cares who scores as long as we’re scoring. I think Ben does a great job of doing that for us. When Ben plays, we score more points.”

Tobias Harris paced the Sixers with a postseason career-high 37 points, while Embiid added 30 in Game 1.

Simmons, meanwhile, joined Wilt Chamberlain as the only Sixer to finish with at least 15 rebounds and 15 assists in a playoff game. However, he had six points on 3-for-9 shooting and missed all six foul shots.

Simmons made his first two field-goal attempts before missing his final four of the first half. He converted his next shot attempt, a tip dunk, with 8 minutes, 35 seconds left in the third quarter. However, Simmons misfired on a 27-foot three-pointer at the third-quarter buzzer and a 10-foot hook shot with 3:36 left in the game.

Four of his missed free throws came in the fourth quarter.

“I mean, I love Ben’s game,” said Sixers guard George Hill. “But what I can say is he shouldn’t give two craps about what you guys say, what other people say, what the media say or what other people on the outside looking in say. He has a job here, and he does a great job doing it.”

As Hill sees it, there are nights when Simmons can score a lot of points. There are also nights when he does other things to impact the game to help the Sixers win.

“So he’s scoring six points and [has] 15 assists and 15 rebounds,” Hill said. “If anyone else does that, you guys are congratulating them that they had great game. So I feel like, take the pressure off him and just play basketball like he’s been doing a great job so far all year.”

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While he’s been the Sixers’ multifaceted All-Star, Simmons averaged career lows in scoring (14.3 points), rebounds (7.2) and assists (6.9) in the regular season. His 1.6 steals, which ranked tied for seventh in the NBA, was the second-lowest average of his four-year career. He shot 61.3% from the foul line this season.

However, Simmons is a finalist for the league’s defensive player of the year and is expected to be named to his second straight all-defensive team.

“We know what he brings to the table on this team,” said Sixers guard Seth Curry. “That’s the reason he’s out there for so many minutes. He brings a lot of good stuff to the floor.

“If he was hurting us any, I’m sure he wouldn’t be out there.”