Ben Simmons has been receiving a lot of hate after the Philadelphia 76ers’ Game 7 loss to the Atlanta Hawks. Several people–including his Sixers teammate Joel Embiid–also criticized him for a botched play in a crucial moment in the fourth quarter that proved to be costly.
For those who missed it, with a little over three minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, Simmons was able to escape Danilo Gallinari’s defense and found himself wide open under the rim for an easy dunk or lay-up. However, he instead passed the ball to Matisse Thybulle who was then fouled.
Thybulle only made one of the two freebies, and the Sixers saw the lead expand again after the Hawks responded with a 5-0 run. Had Simmons chose to shoot the ball, though, the score would have been tied at 88-all.
Ben Simmons passing up dunks now??pic.twitter.com/qovIypu2wZ
— ClutchPoints (@ClutchPointsApp) June 21, 2021
In response to the criticisms about the play, Ben Simmons explained that he thought Gallinari was just right behind him and was going for the block.
“I just assumed Gallo was coming up on my back and then Collins moved out,” the Australian playmaker shared, per Rich Hoffman of The Athletic.
Considering Simmons’ poor free-throw shooting percentage, his decision might not be that wrong. Nonetheless, with the scores that close and given the number of bodies near Thybulle, it would have been really better had he took the risk and attempted the shot. Simply put, his lack of aggressiveness did not help Philly as they tried to keep the game close at that point.
As mentioned, Joel Embiid was not happy with Simmons’ decision and called the play the “turning point” that let any hope of the Sixers winning slip away for good.
“I mean, I’ll be honest. I thought the turning point was when we—I don’t know how to say it—but I thought the turning point was just we had an open shot and we made one free throw and we missed the other and then they came down and scored,” the Cameroonian big man said.
Sure enough, there is no use crying over spilled milk. Besides, there were a lot of things that went wrong for Philly and it would be wrong to point to a specific play as the reason for the loss.
With the way things are going, though, changes are bound to happen in the City of Brotherly Love this offseason.