Simmons praised for 'elite' defensive display as 76ers stifle Butler, Heat

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Ben Simmons kept former 76er Jimmy Butler quiet as the Miami Heat suffered a heavy loss in Philadelphia on Saturday.
Ben Simmons kept former 76er Jimmy Butler quiet as the Miami Heat suffered a heavy loss in Philadelphia on Saturday.

Philadelphia 76ers head coach Brett Brown felt Ben Simmons once again demonstrated his "elite" defensive abilities against the Miami Heat, keeping former team-mate Jimmy Butler quiet in Saturday's win.

With Simmons often designated to pick him up, Butler posted just 11 points as he missed nine of his 13 field goal attempts before sitting out the entire fourth quarter as the 76rs won 113-86.

The four-time All-Star was booed by Philadelphia fans in his first game at Wells Fargo Center since his departure. He joined the 76ers via a trade last November but left in the offseason, signing a four-year deal with the Heat.

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Josh Richardson – a second-round draft pick by Miami in 2015 – led the way with 32 points for the 76ers, though it was their work without the ball that pleased Brown the most.

Simmons was singled out for special praise, the Australian helping his team move to 11-5 for the season despite contributing just four points on offense.

"What I do know is Ben was elite again defensively. I thought his performance guarding Jimmy was outstanding," Brown told the media.

"When Ben puts his mind to it, and he uncoils and he's six foot 10 and he's strong and he's got desire. I don't care who it is – that's a tough person to have on you."

Asked to assess his own performance, Simmons said: "I think it went well, if you look at the box score."

Joel Embiid had 23 points and 11 rebounds to help Philadelphia make it seven straight wins at home. The center is also developing a greater understanding of his role on defense, according to Simmons.

"He's getting a lot better," he said of Embiid. "Since I've been playing with him, he's definitely improved a lot in that area.

"Reading when the guy comes, it helps, and he's making the right plays."

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