This is the end of the process.
For all those years of tanking and misery to build a dynamic duo of Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons, the vision of the Sixers’ heartbreaking loss to Atlanta in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference semi-final will be too much for fans to bear.
As made abundantly clear by the nuclear response from Sixers commentators this week, it’s time to blow it up and start again.
Simmons was the chief flop in Philadelphia’s 103-96 defeat, putting up just four shots for five points. He was again benched in the final minute when he was again a liability at the offensive end. in the fourth quarter — for the entire game for that matter.
One embarrassing moment completely exposed just how broken he is.
In the tough fourth quarter there was a possession where he was terrified to take an open dunk and attempted to dish off from under the rim.
The reaction from teammate Joel Embiid explains it all.
The 24-year-old was given a scathing review from NBA legend Charles Barkley at half time after he failed to show up in the first half. The message clearly didn’t get through.
At half time, Simmons had more fouls than points. He finished with four fouls and five points.
He had 13 assists, but his refusal to shoot the ball or even attempt to attack the basket showed a young man that was mentally shot.
Atlanta had Kevin Huerter (27 points) and Trae Young (21) step-up when it mattered, while Joel Embiid’s 31 points couldn’t carry the Sixers to the finish line.
The Hawks now face Milwaukee in the Eastern Conference finals.
The Sixers had earned the No. 1 seed in the East, but played nothing like it in Game 7.
The Hawks led 76-71 at three quarter time, but Philadelphia quickly took the lead back. The swinging contest turned back Atlanta’s way and Simmons’ first free throw of the night closed the deficit to 93-90 with less than two minutes to play. Then he disappeared, no longer a factor in the contest. An irrelevant presence.
Simmons’ poor-form has been the biggest talking point of the Eastern Conference semi-finals series, resulting in him facing the humiliation of being repeatedly benched during the Sixers Game 6 win.
“You have to create,” Barkley said on the TNT half time show.
“He’s getting rid of that ball. He’s playing scared.
“He’s afraid to get fouled. He’s playing scared.”
Simmons’ only highlight came in the third quarter when he threw down a sweet reverse alley-oop from a nice pass by teammate Furkan Korkmaz.
NBA legend Shaquille O’Neal also told Simmons to get aggressive before the start of the game.
“You went to LSU man, man up, stop messing around. C’mon now. You know better than that,” he said.
“I don’t care if you can’t shoot free-throws. You can do other stuff. You can penetrate, you can get lay-ups. You can get jump hooks. I remember when… there was a time he was averaging 18 (points). He’s only averaging 10. Forget the free-throws. Play your game.
“I was a terrible free-throw shooter, but that’s not going to stop me from jump-hooking you to death You’ve got to be aggressive no matter what.”