Iverson offers Simmons ‘encouragement’ in call

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CAMDEN, NJ — Sixers legend Allen Iverson reached out to Ben Simmons after the rookie scored just one point in 31 minutes of Philadelphia’s Game 2 loss to the Boston Celtics.

Iverson’s advice?

“He just said play the game I know how to play,” Simmons said on Friday. “And that’s just second nature to me. … He gave me some words of encouragement.”

Simmons seemed to appreciate the phone call from Iverson. A night earlier, Simmons scored a career-low one point in Philadelphia’s 108-103 loss; he failed to make a field goal for the first time in his 88-game NBA career.

After the game, he said he was “overthinking” things on the court and called his struggles against Boston “self-inflicted.”

On Friday, Simmons was asked if his confidence was shaken.

“It’s very high,” he said. “I’m a very confident person every time I step on the floor. So that’s not going to change.”

Simmons had five turnovers in Game 2 and has had almost as many turnovers (12) as assists (13) in the series. Boston seems to be taking a physical approach with Simmons, effectively cutting off his ability to drive and create for his teammates.

“What they are doing is taking what the league did [against Simmons] all year and just doing it well,” Sixers coach Brett Brown said. “He’s seeing a wall. Early in LeBron [James’] days, that was all he saw. You’re going to live with a pull-up, not a layup. And your gonna see five jerseys and five sets of numbers. And I think that the Celtics are doing a really good job in that regard.”

Boston has outscored the 76ers by 44 points in Simmons’ 73 minutes.

Simmons, a leading candidate for Rookie of the Year, reiterated Friday that he didn’t think Boston was doing anything out of the ordinary to slow him down. He said he was “just thinking too much just about everything, every play on the floor. I think I’m looking at it with too much detail and not just playing.”

When asked about it, Brown said he has no plans to decrease Simmons’ minutes and give more playing time to T.J. McConnell. McConnell had eight points, five assists and two steals in 17 minutes. The Sixers outscored Boston by 16 points with McConnell on the floor.

“I’m not going to sit Ben Simmons,” Brown said. “Ben Simmons has played (88) games. He’s the rookie of the year. The other night, he had an outlier.”

Game 3 of the East semifinal series is on Saturday in Philadelphia. The Sixers face long odds after falling down 0-2 against the Celtics.

Entering this postseason, teams that lost the first two games of a best-of-seven series on the road have won just 6 percent of those series (15-236), according to the NBA.

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