Just like every other opponent of the Hawks, The 76ers threw a multitude of bodies at Trae Young, and they just didn’t have an answer. He had 25 points and 7 assists at halftime and finished with a cool 35 and 10 as Atlanta racked up 128 points against one of the top-ranked defenses in the league. Doc Rivers is sure to make adjustments — if not, it will be a quick series — and his starting point guard wants his shot at being the primary defender on Young. Here’s what Ben Simmons had to say after Game 1:
Ben Simmons says he wants to be the primary defender on Trae Young next time and bring his physical play if the refs allow it
“If the refs don’t call so many fouls, I can be physical. See if the refs let us play a little bit” pic.twitter.com/Vio9YqRQij
— John Clark (@JClarkNBCS) June 6, 2021
Rivers gave Simmons, who is widely regarded as one of the best defensive players in the league, the assignment on Young to begin the second half. Within three minutes, he had already committed two fouls.
There’s a couple of things I want to say about this. First, there isn’t a single player that can guard Trae Young one-on-one. Great offense beats great defense in the NBA every day of the week and twice on Sunday, and Young is one of the ten best offensive players on the planet. Secondly, being physical with Trae Young isn’t the way to slow him down.
I talked about this on the most recent episode of Squawk Talk — our Hawks podcast here at SportsTalkATL — but Young isn’t one to be intimidated.
He’s not going to back down because someone ten inches taller than him is pushing him around a bit. In fact, it’s only going to motivate him. On top of that, Young is so crafty at creating contact and drawing fouls that being physical is only playing into his hand. If that’s how Simmons wants to defend him, he’ll have three fouls before the end of the first quarter. And unfortunately for Simmons, crying that the refs call too many fouls isn’t going to work. You can’t just grab and bump guys and call it “defense.” You have to defend without fouling, and Simmons will not be able to do that if matched up one-on-one with Young.
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