Ben Simmons reacts to boos from 76ers fans when he returned to Philly: ‘I thought it would be louder’

Ben Simmons made his long-awaited return to Philadelphia as a member of the Brooklyn Nets on Tuesday night to face the 76ers. It was Simmons’ first game in the city since Game 7 of the 2021 Eastern Conference semifinals — the game in which he infamously missed a chance in the closing minutes of his final game as a member of the Sixers. Simmons never played another game with the Sixers after that, as he demanded a trade — a wish that was finally granted when he moved to Brooklyn in exchange for James Harden in February.

The Nets played in Philadelphia once after the trade last season, but Simmons was ruled out for the game. This time, though, he was ready to play and the crowd was primed for him. Simmons was met with boos as soon as he hit the floor during warmups, and those boos only intensified as the arena filled and fans took their seats.

Injury issues took a lot out of this matchup as the Sixers were without their three best players Joel Embiid, Tyrese Maxey and Harden. The crowd didn’t seem to mind too much though, as those in attendance made sure to bring the energy when Simmons was introduced.

In fact, the response was a bit more subdued than expected, but the boos didn’t end with pre-game introductions. Simmons was met with taunts for all of his touches throughout the contest. The noise got especially loud when Simmons was at the free throw line. He went three of six from the line overall, though he missed two straight attempts in the second half, much to the delight of Sixers fans because his struggles led to free chicken bites from Chick-fil-A through the in-arena promotion.

After a lot of build up to the game, the reception was a little underwhelming overall. Simmons seemed to think so, at least, as he revealed he expected more after the game. “I thought it would be louder,” he said.

Simmons has been playing his best basketball of the season in the last week or so as he has started to look more comfortable and confident on the floor after missing all of last season. That trend continued in hostile territory as Simmons was aggressive when it came to setting up his teammates. He had four assists to go along with four points in the first frame, and even gave an MJ-inspired shrug after sinking two straight free throws.

Overall, Simmons had a decent game. He finished with 11 points, 11 assists and seven rebounds in 32 minutes. However, he didn’t record a single point or assist in the fourth quarter, and the Nets clearly could have used some production from him at that time.

In a close game, the Sixers outscored the Nets 30-24 in the final frame to pull off an improbable 115-106 victory. Tobias Harris led Philadelphia with 24 points and six rebounds, and De’Anthony Melton added 22 points and four assists of his own. Paul Reed (19 points and 10 rebounds) and Georges Niang (16 points and five rebounds) both stepped up in a big way for Philadelphia off the bench. In addition to producing Simmons. Kyrie Irving had 23 points for Brooklyn and Kevin Durant added 20 points, five rebounds and five assists.

The fact that a Sixers team without Embiid, Harden and Maxey was able to take down a healthy Nets team playing their own big three makes this game one of the most improbable results of the season so far.

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