For the third time in four years, the 76ers’ season ended in the Eastern Conference semifinals. Philadelphia looked to have all the right parts this year but ultimately ended in turmoil. They haven’t advanced to the Conference Finals since 2001.
Who’s to blame for their early exit? The world has pointed its finger directly at Ben Simmons, and he is currently turned ‘ash black’ on the grill from the heat that has been thrown his way. Simmons finished Game 7 with just five points. He ended the Playoffs a dreadful 25-for-73 from the free-throw line, the worst rate in NBA postseason history. In 56 fourth-quarter minutes across seven games against the Atlanta Hawks, Ben took a total of three shots. You are not reading that wrong, he only took three shots, and he plays the point guard position.
As you can tell, there are huge problems with Simmons and his shooting. As all Playoff games should do, they shine the brightest on each team’s biggest flaws, and the biggest was Ben’s inability to shoot. As the games become tighter and tighter, the only way teams can get a competitive edge over their opponent is to allow the flaws to take center stage. But if you look at the whole picture, it wasn’t just Ben that screwed up Game 7 or the series.
Danny Green missed most of the series due to an injury. Matisse Thybulle committed multiple unforgivable fouls. Tobias Harris missed multiple gimmes around the basket. Head coach Doc Rivers ran a 10-man rotation in that loss, sat his second-best scorer (Seth Curry) for 17 minutes because of foul trouble, and tried inserting an ice-cold Shake Milton into the game for the first time at the start of the fourth quarter. In total, he gave his bench 69 minutes of playing time. The Nets and Bucks combined gave theirs 49 in a more traditional Game 7 that even included in an overtime period.
The Philadelphia 76ers have a lot of issues to solve heading into the summer break. Talks have already begun about moving Ben Simmons to another team, and Magic Johnson agrees. I just feel so bad for Ben to be in this position, but the 76ers as a whole should be the ones to blame and should’ve never got to this point in the first place. They were the ones that took him under their wing and had complete control to mold the player he could be. And now, his future is tarnished and up in the air.
Catch you Thursday.