There’s no question that Philadelphia 76ers guard Ben Simmons is one of the best defensive players in the entire NBA. On the other end, few would argue against Dallas Mavericks star Luka Dončić being considered one of the most unstoppable offensive forces.
The two standouts will go head-to-head for the fourth time in their young careers on Monday and up to this point, it’s been advantage Simmons.
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The 22-year-old Dončić is from Solvenia and was selected third overall by the Atlanta Hawks in the 2018 NBA Draft. That day though, Dončić was traded to the Mavericks in exchange for that year’s fifth overall pick – Trae Young – and a 2019 first round pick.
Hailing from Melbourne, Australia, Simmons was the Sixers number one overall pick in the 2016 NBA Draft, but missed the entire 2016-2017 season with a foot injury. Over the past three seasons, with both Dončić and Simmons in the Association, Dallas and Philly have played each other five times, but the Mavs’ best player has been inactive twice due to injury.
Simmons Has Nearly ‘Shut Down’ Luka Over Last Two Meetings
The first battle between the two studs came on Jan. 5, 2019 – which ended up being a 106-100 Sixers home win. In over 26 minutes of action, Dončić scored just 14 points on a putrid 4-for-16 shooting night, which included 1-for-8 on three-pointers.
Though these numbers aren’t necessarily attributed to Simmons’ shutdown defense, the Australian ended that contest with a 20-point, 13-rebound, 11-assist triple-double on 9-for-16 shooting as well. During the pandemic-altered 2019-2020 campaign, the duo squared off in Dallas on Jan. 11, 2020 in what ended up being a big, comeback 109-91 win by the hosts.
While Dončić did post a near triple-double of 19 points, 12 rebounds, and eight assists, he still struggled from the field at 4-for-15. Further, per NBA.com, in two minutes and 57 seconds matched up against Simmons in the contest, the Slovenian was forced into an astounding four turnovers.
In their third and most recent head-to-head game, the Sixers again found home cooking to be vital in the outcome, as they pushed aside the Mavericks 111-97 at the Wells Fargo Center. Dončić ended the outing with 19 points on a respectable 6-for-13 shooting – including 3-for-6 from distance – but finished with only four assists against a game-high seven turnovers, and a plus/minus of -20.
In seven minutes and 28 seconds of court time being defended by Simmons, Dončić scored six points on 3-for-7 shooting, but also had an ugly 1:4 assist to turnover ratio and missed all three of his attempts from downtown.
Luka’s Numbers Are Lower Against Sixers Than Any Other Team
Despite not always having his A-game when facing Simmons and the Sixers thus far – albeit in a limited sample size – Dončić’s talents and accomplishments are undeniable. His status among the NBA stars, at his young age, is almost unbelievable, and many have already placed number 77 within the top-five players in the league.
Looking at Dončić’s career splits, he has played every team in the NBA at least twice now and the numbers are notably down against the Sixers, nearly across the board. In the three games against Philly, the superstar has respectable averages of 17.3 points, 6.7 rebounds, and 6.7 assists.
However, Dončić has made only 14-of-44 field goal attempts over the three games, including 5-of-17 from three-point land. His 31.8% success rate on field goals against the Sixers is lower than against any other team, as is his offensive rating of 94. His 20 assists against 12 turnovers when playing Simmons and company leaves a lot to be desired as well.
The Sixers and Mavericks are scheduled to tip off at 7:30 p.m. on Monday in Dallas.