Tobias Harris, who looked sharp Wednesday in a 125-121 loss to the Toronto Raptors, said the 76ers need to raise their game in the playoffs with Ben Simmons expected to be out. The Sixers will open the playoffs against the Boston Celtics next week.
Harris, who scored 22 points on 8-for-13 shooting against the Raptors, said he would “not necessarily” have to generate more offense without Simmons in the lineup. But he eventually talked himself into it.
“Just trying to make sure we find our spots a little bit differently, so me personally, with Ben being out, that’s a guy who contributes a whole lot for us offensively, in a way that he is able to collapse defenses,” Harris said. “So I think everyone kind of has to shift themselves in a different way to contribute, whether that be as a spacer, whether it be shooting the basketball. As a collective unit, we look to kind of find a way to up our games to another level to help our team offensively.”
For Harris, that would mean scoring more and for the No. 6-seeded Sixers to beat the No. 3 Celtics.
That’s been the case this season when Simmons has been sidelined. Harris is averaging 19.6 points this season, with one game remaining, Friday night against the Houston Rockets. In 57 games that he and Simmons have been in the lineup together, Harris is averaging 19.3 points. During the 14 games that Harris has played without Simmons, it’s 20.7.
Harris’ consistency has been his best trait, and either with or without Simmons, his shooting hasn’t varied that much.
For the season, he is shooting 47% from the field. In the games without Simmons, it has been 47.5%, and in games with him it has been 46.8%.
The same is the case with three-point shooting. Harris is shooting 36.4% for the season. He is shooting 36.5% in games with Simmons and 35.8% in games without him.
Harris is averaging 16.3 field-goal attempts this season, 16.0 while playing with Simmons and 17.6 without him.
So again, Harris has shot a little more without Simmons, and scored a little more, but will that be enough?
No doubt he and the rest of the Sixers will miss Simmons’ passing. Simmons is averaging 8.0 assists and is adept at drawing defenders on the drive and kicking the ball out to open shooters.
So the Sixers will miss his accuracy, albeit mainly from close to the basket.
Harris will likely have to step up and even to a greater extent than he did in the 14 games he played without Simmons.
One area in which the 6-foot-8 Harris has been more aggressive is taking players off the dribble, especially smaller defenders, and shooting over them.
He isn’t the type to just become an all-out gunner. Harris works well in a team concept.