Simmons' 38-year NBA first was simply Magic
BEN Simmons' aggressive heroics against Toronto in game six of their Eastern Conference series have been revealed as the first performance of its kind the NBA has seen in more than 38 years.
Simmons exploded out of the blocks to help Philadelphia to a red-hot start on Friday morning before the Sixers went on to record a comfortable 112-101 victory that sent the series to a deciding game seven in Toronto on Monday morning (AEST).
The winner will take on the top-seeded Milwaukee Bucks in the Eastern Conference finals.
The Australian 22-year-old had swept away days of personal attacks to be at his dominant best, Aussie coach Brett Brown said as he revealed the Sixers awarded Simmons the honour of ringing the team's liberty bell in their dressing room as their best player of the game.
"What he did today was why he was an NBA All-Star at age 22," the 76ers coach said.
Simmons registered 21 points, eight rebounds, six assists and no turnovers in a performance filled with power dunks, fast breaks, offensive rebounds, pinpoint passes and athletic defensive plays.
Simmons was savaged by Philadelphia fans, US media and former NBA stars including Charles Barkley after he was listless in the Raptors' 36-point thrashing of the 76ers in game five.
But that was quickly erased by his game-six performance.
It's been revealed that Simmons' stat line, headlined by 21 points and no turnovers, hadn't been produced in the NBA play-offs by a player 22 years old or younger since Magic Johnson achieved it in 1981 during his second season with the Los Angeles Lakers.
Simmons' near-perfect offensive performance is also just the third time a player 22 years old or younger has achieved such a stat line, putting him alongside NBA Hall of Famers Johnson and Oscar Robertson.
Simmons' impressive output is no flash in the pan either - only Robertson and Johnson have produced more points, assists and rebounds than Simmons has in his first 20 career play-off performances.
Simmons' heroics prompted US sports commentator Colin Cowherd to turn on the Aussie's detractors, who were calling for him to be traded before the game-six transformation.
"Philadelphia... I'm doing this out of human decency," he said.
"You want to move Ben Simmons to some far-off land where he's going to dominate the NBA for the next 12 years. Well I am here to save your franchise. I'm a faith healer.
"The bottom line here is he's 22 years old. You get that right? There's only two young guys left in the playoffs. Jamal Murray from Denver, who is inconsistent, and Ben Simmons who, god, is inconsistent. He's 22 years old. Last night he goes 21 points, eight rebounds, six.
"No player in NBA history has had that stat line at 22 years old. You do realise that Kobe Bryant didn't start his first two years in the NBA?"
He said Simmons needed to be compared to superstars Giannis Antetekounmpo and Anthony Davis, who have only begun to dominate the league after several years in the NBA.
"Last night, (Philadelphia's) biggest game in 19 years and he was money," Cowherd said of Simmons.
"He was unbelievable."
Brown noted Simmons' turnover-free game, his "attack mode" on offence and four of his rebounds being on the offensive end.
Simmons was spotted chatting to 76ers' great Julius "Dr J" Erving before the game, but the Australian declined to say if he was inspired by the legend's words.
"I can't tell you what he said," Simmons said.
There had been calls for the 76ers to trade Simmons after his recent sub-par performances and his refusal to take shots outside the key.
Brown reminded the critics Simmons was 22 years old and in just his second year in the NBA.
"Shame on us for thinking every day, all day, here he is and he's going to go and knock it out of the park," Brown said.
"It's just not fair."
The 76ers' other All-Stars, Joel Embiid and Jimmy Butler, were also impressive in the game six victory.
Embiid fought through illness to dominate the paint with 17 points, 12 rebounds and two blocks and Butler was inspirational with 25 points, six rebounds and eight assists.
Toronto's All-Star Kawhi Leonard had 29 points, 12 rebounds and five assists but it was not enough to counter the 76ers.
- with AAP