Ben Simmons fought his way to the basket, with a twist off Danilo Gallinari and was left alone in front of the net for an easy layup, even a dunk, and chose to pass. He passed the ball. The opportunity to shoot passed. The opportunity to tie the game passed.
Joel Embiid couldn’t believe it. With a chance to tie Game 7 against Atlanta late in the fourth quarter, Simmons let go of his chance to become the postseason hero and passed the ball to Matisse Thybulle.
“I assumed Gallo was coming from behind,” Simmons acknowledged.
He believed Gallinari would attempt a foul – as the Hawks did throughout the seven-game series to reach the Eastern Conference Finals – and going to the line at the key moment was a risk that the star point guard was missing. willing to take.
His free throws were the poison in the postseason that ultimately knocked out the East-leading Sixers. Simmons made 25 of 73 (34%) penalty shots in the playoffs and just missed the Hawks 27.
An unacceptable amount for any player, especially for a first pick and who still has $ 140 million left on his contract. He can’t make 3-pointers (5 of 34 in his career), free throws turned his back on him, and now Simmons is scared to even spike the ball.
Coach Doc Rivers went from being his most ardent promoter early in the playoffs to openly questioning Simmons’ future in Philadelphia.
Simmons lost his shot, his confidence, and possibly his job in Philadelphia.
Rivers wasn’t ready to rule out the return of the infamous point guard if he gets the work done this vacation.
“I’m still optimistic about Ben,” Rivers warned Monday. “But there is work to do. Ben will be willing to do it and that’s the key. Sometimes you have to go through certain things to see them and be honest about it. Obviously, what just happened Ben I can’t imagine, because there is so much greatness around him and in everything he does.
Sixers point guard Danny Green said Monday that it is unfair that “everyone is under the idea that it was Ben’s fault.”
“It’s not just Ben. We are together win or lose, “Green said.
Simmons said he “loves being in Fili,” but the reaction in the hours after the loss made it clear that it was unrequited.
“Offensively I was not there,” he acknowledged. “I didn’t do enough for my teammates. There is a lot I need to work on ”.
THE PROCESS TO BE REFERRED
The Sixers’ long rebuilding that began in 2013 and survived a season of just 10 wins and streaks of 26 and 28 consecutive losses, was looking for a big payoff at the end.
Being the first seeds, home advantage and facing a Hawks who had fired their coach and had no player selected for the All-Star Game was not enough for the 76ers to reach the conference final.
Team president Daryl Morey will have his first big chance to reorganize the Sixers. Doing nothing is not an option and this week he will discuss his vision for the next few months – and what that means for Simmons. (AP)