Ben Simmons was upended in a scary foul and was even slapped upside the head, but kept his composure to lead the 76ers to a series win over the Heat.
Philadelphia prevailed 104-91 in Tuesday’s Game 5, taking the series 4-1.
Miami clearly tried to get under Simmons’ skin and unnerve the Aussie, but the rookie showed incredible composure and maturity.
Simmons scored 14 points, 10 rebounds and six assists on Tuesday after being targeted in two questionable incidents.
Less than two minutes into the first quarter Simmons landed heavily on his back after being upended by Josh Richardson.
I could be wrong but what Josh Richardson just did to Ben Simmons – submarining him into a complete flip that sent him crashing down on his tailbone/back – did not look like “an accident.” Heat playoff physicality? Ben bounced up. Seems OK. But very dangerous “accident.”
— Skip Bayless (@RealSkipBayless) April 25, 2018
Richardson barrelled into Simmons’ legs as the youngster was going for a lay-up in the paint, however Simmons got straight back up and brushed it off.
Do you watch the actual games or watch clips on Twitter? He tripped over his own guy and was stumbling old man
— Kazakhdan (@dbachz1) April 25, 2018
Then late in the match, tensions threatened to erupt when Simmons was slapped in the head by Goran Dragic.
Dragic was chasing back after a turnover and fouled Simmons before hitting him in the back of the head, earning a technical foul in the process.
Fans took to social media to commend the way Simmons handled himself amidst the questionable tactics.
Another example of Ben Simmons' preternatural poise: gets smacked upside the head, adrenaline flowing, takes an angry drive to get to the rim against James Johnson, but instead of forcing a shot, he kicks it out to Covington for the open corner three.
— David Murphy (@ByDavidMurphy) April 25, 2018
Tragic slaps Ben Simmons in the head pic.twitter.com/RUsrtsjuDh
— Steve Noah (@Steve_OS) April 25, 2018
The 76ers were one of the worst teams in the NBA in recent years until Simmons and centre Joel Embiid were drafted. They both overcame injuries to steer the team to the playoffs this season.
Embiid had 19 points and 12 rebounds.
The Heat’s future Hall of Fame inductee Dwyane Wade, possibly playing his last NBA game, had 11 points and five rebounds.
Wade hugged Simmons at the end of the game and whispered congratulations in the Australian’s ear.
The win was also a stunning comeback for 76ers coach Brett Brown, a former NBL and Australian Olympic coach, who remained in charge of the squad during their darkest years.
Earlier Tuesday in Boston, the Celtics took a 3-2 series lead against the Bucks with a 92-87 win.