Brooklyn Nets veteran forward Jared Dudley might have inadvertently provided the Philadelphia 76ers — and specifically second-year All-Star Ben Simmons — with some added motivation heading into Game 3 between the two teams Thursday night.
While speaking with media members on Wednesday, Dudley said that Simmons is just an “average” player in half-court situations, and while it wasn’t an especially inflammatory comment, you could see how Simmons could take it as disrespectful.
“I think Ben Simmons is a great player in transition,” Dudley said. “Once you slow him up in the half court I think he’s average.”
Apparently slowing Simmons up and forcing him out of transition is one of those things that is easier said than done, as the reigning Rookie of the Year responded to Dudley’s comments with an impressive 31-point, nine-assist, four-rebound performance that helped propel the Sixers to a 131-115 victory in Game 3, giving his team a 2-1 series lead. Simmons also got some solid trolling in at Dudley’s expense, as you can see below:
After the game, Simmons didn’t feel like giving any energy to the burgeoning feud with Dudley.
“It’s done,” Simmons said. “People are going to say what they want to say. I just got to play.”
For what it’s worth, Dudley, who finished the game with 0 points in 17 minutes, gave credit to Simmons for his Game 3 performance.
“I feel real confident when I’m in there guarding against him,” Dudley said, via the New York Daily News. “But you gotta give credit, he played phenomenal. The whole team played phenomenal, and they deserve this win.”
Perhaps the lesson here is don’t provide opponents with additional motivation, especially in the postseason.