MIAMI – Future Hall of Famer Dwyane Wade is far from surprised that Ben Simmons has been impressive in his first postseason series.
Wade had a feeling that the 76ers rookie point guard would be special back when Simmons was a high schooler watching Wade and LeBron James, Simmons’ mentor, work out. Now, Simmons is the favorite to win the NBA rookie of the year award and is a budding superstar.
“You could see the way he looked at guys like ourselves and how we worked. He was taking notes, mental notes,” said Wade, whose Heat host the Sixers Saturday in Game 4 of their Eastern Conference quarterfinal series at AmericanAirlines Arena. The Sixers hold a 2-1 advantage in the best-of-seven series.
“To see him a few years later,” Wade added, “and see where he is in his game and the effect on a state and a city to play the game of basketball on such a high level, it’s impressive.”
Simmons has two double-doubles in his three playoff games. He had 19 points, 12 rebounds, seven assists and four steals in Thursday’s 128-108 Game 3 victory. The Australian native has 60 points, 30 rebounds and 29 assists this postseason. He and Hall of Famer Oscar Robertson are the only players in NBA history to have at least 60 points, 25 rebounds and 25 assists after their first three playoff games.
— Keith Pompey (@PompeyOnSixers) April 19, 2018
The 21-year-old’s 12 triple-doubles during the regular season rank second, behind Robertson, for the most by an NBA rookie.
“To see where he is now, he’s not just a rookie-of-the-year candidate,” Wade said. “He’s a very good basketball player.
“We have our work cut out for us every night because of what he brings to the table.”
Anderson sparks Sixers
Justin Anderson downplayed his role. But the reserve swingman’s physicality fueled the Sixers in Game 3.
Anderson had watched from the bench as the Heat pushed around his teammates in Game 2. He wasn’t about to let that happen when he entered Game 3 at the start of the second quarter.
His aggressive play appeared to frustrate Wade 1 minute, 34 seconds into the quarter as the two got tangled up. Wade yanked Anderson’s arm, slinging him to the ground out of bounds. Wade then stood in front of Anderson, yapping at the Sixer. Anderson quickly got up, and the two had to be separated.
After the officials’ reviewed the play, the players received physical-taunting technical fouls.
Here’s Wade’s take: “He came into the game to be a tough guy. So the refs didn’t do nothing about it. So I did.”
Anderson initially claimed he didn’t remember the play but then said, “It was a tough play for the both of us. It was just a common foul. I’m not tripping about it. It’s not that big of a deal.”
It’s hard to say if the play affected Wade’s focus. But he didn’t come remotely close to duplicating his 28-point performance from Game 2, when 21 of his points came on 8-for-9 shooting in the first half. Thursday, Wade scored only eight points and missed 8 of 10 shots.
Anderson was asked if his role was to be an enforcer.
“Like in hockey? Nah,” he said. “I just play hard. I just make sure I do whatever I can to help my team win. That’s all that really matters.”
Anderson finished with six points on 2-for-3 shooting — all three-point attempts — in 9 minutes, 18 seconds. He also had four rebounds.