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NBA: Ben Simmons’ 76ers vs Pacers live coverage, scores, updates, video

Philadelphia 76ers guard Ben Simmons.
Philadelphia 76ers guard Ben Simmons.Source: AP

BEN Simmons and the Philadelphia 76ers are back in action, and they’re going up against a surging Indiana Pacers squad.

While the 76ers have put together an impressive calendar year, the Pacers have been just as good, recently propelling to the third seed in the Eastern Conference.

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Simmons has been on a tear for the 76ers, averaging 16.3 points, 7.6 rebounds, and 7.6 assists per game, and is the favourite to win the NBA’s Rookie of the Year award.

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Victor Oladipo, who was traded to Indiana in the off-season, has led the way for the Pacers, averaging 23.8 points and 5.3 rebounds a game; ultimately being named a 2018 All-Star.

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The 76ers currently sit on a 36-29 record, and are coming off a blowout win over the Brooklyn Nets. The Pacers enter the game on a 39-28 record, with a win set to extend their lead over the Cleveland Cavaliers in the conference standings.

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A MINOR ankle complaint has slowed Melbourne United star Josh Boone as the minor premier prepares for game one of the NBL championship Series on Friday night.

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But United coach Dean Vickerman is confident the versatile big man, who ignited Melbourne past New Zealand Breakers with a career-high 33 points and 15 rebounds to clinch the semi-final series, will not be hampered against Adelaide 36ers.

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Boone completed a sharp session yesterday in Sandringham despite the “high ankle” injury.

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“It’s just a niggly little high ankle injury but he got through practice today,” Vickerman said.

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“I think by the time the game comes around on Friday he’ll be fine.”

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United will go into the best-of-five grand final series with a clean bill of health, bar some bumps and bruises, the products of a long campaign.

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Boone is crucial in United’s bid to protect rim against a dynamic 36ers line-up that includes country Victorians Mitch Creek, Nathan Sobey and import Josh Childress.

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Creek and Childress paced Adelaide past Perth Wildcats in the semi-final series, while Sobey splashed clutch threes down the stretch as the 36ers wiped out an 18-point deficit to win by the barest of margins.

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“When he’s (Creek) making the three ball consistently he’s such a major threat because he’s the best finisher they have going to the rim,” Vickerman said.

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“They really challenge your defence but we’ve had success in loading up the key way and taking things on the chest and we’ve been able to take a number of charges versus this team and hopefully we can do that again.”

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Vickerman has cautioned United about giving up soft fouls in the decider, after watching New Zealand get hamstrung in the semi-finals with Edgar Sosa and Mika Vukona in trouble.

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United struck trouble of their own against the 36ers early in the season.

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“We haven’t succeeded in doing that over the four games that we’ve played them,” Vickerman said.

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“They (36ers) certainly challenge your bigs, in Adelaide you can often find yourself playing a little bit smaller because your bigs are in foul trouble.

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“If they can get 30 free throws and they can make eight or 10 threes that’s when they get really tough, being able to limit one of those areas is key for us.”

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THE future.

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It may only be his rookie season but Ben Simmons has been anointed as the next great Philadelphia guard by none other than 76ers legend Allen Iverson.

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Iverson posted this image to Instagram after the two players hung out, captioning the photo: ‘The eyes never lie!!! #RealKiller #Bloodthirsty #OurFuture#Sixers’

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Simmons also posted a picture of the pair to his Instagram account, simply calling Iverson: “Big bro.”

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Simmons is an unbackable favourite to win the Rookie of the Year after his incredible season.

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The 76ers are on track to make the Eastern Conference playoffs for the first time since 2012 after finishing with the second worst record in the East last season.

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Like Simmons, Iverson was drafted with the No.1 overall pick and the Aussie has previously spoken of the Sixers legend as one of the players he’s modelled his game on.

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“I watched Allen Iverson growing up and guys like that and ‘Bron (LeBron James),” Simmons said last week when Iverson was in attendance for the Sixers’ win over the Charlotte Hornets. “So the way I play is just who I’ve watched.

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“A lot of people don’t know that I actually had a poster of A.I. in my room when I was young,” Simmons said on draft day.

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“It was a big diamond-cut poster of him with the braids. I just remember him being one of those small guys, the point guard with braids, cornrows, and the headband. I remember I had some of those cornrows when I was younger. He’s one of those players that just fought everyday.”

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