Philadelphia 76ers guard Ben Simmons notched his third-straight All-Star nod this season, but lately, he hasn't been playing like the guy who rallied to get voted into the big showcase by Eastern Conference assistant coaches.
Through the first five games of the difficult six-game road trip the Sixers are currently on, Simmons has averaged 14 points-per-game while hitting on just 46-percent of his shots. His field-goal percentage lately has been much lower than his average of 55-percent this season.
As a player who typically isn't hesitant to throw his All-Star badge of honor around when getting criticized, Simmons normally shrugs off any ideas of him not playing up to his standards. However, after Simmons' 11-point showing in the Sixers' second-straight loss on Tuesday night, the veteran guard admitted he could be better.
“There’s a lot going on, but it is what it is,” Simmons said. “I’ve got to get my s**t together, and we’ve got to get back on track as a team.” Seeing the Sixers exhausted from the gate on Tuesday night was far from a surprise.
For the past week, they've been traveling in a different timezone and facing difficult matchups without their best player, Joel Embiid. Without the MVP-caliber big man, a lot of pressure has been put on Simmons and Tobias Harris.
Unfortunately, Simmons' mini-slump has come in during a tough time. However, he's not dwelling on the issues. Although the last two games have left a bad taste in the Sixers' mouths, Simmons looks forward to Thursday night's test in Cleveland.
“You can’t let the lows get too low, and the highs get too high," Simmons said earlier this week. "It’s a long season. If you’re going to judge us based off one game, I don’t know what to tell you. There’s plenty more basketball to play. I think we’re tied for first with Brooklyn right now. It could be worse, but we also want to be better and get to the next level. It is what it is.”
The Sixers are set to take on the Cleveland Cavaliers on Thursday night. Once again, they'll be without Joel Embiid. Although the 76ers have struggled against the Cavs this year, Simmons and the Sixers understand they are the better team on paper. Now, they have a chance on Thursday night to prove it as the roster looks to bounce back after a two-game skid.