Ben Simmons not Ready for Big Moment Again as Sixers Fall in Game 7
For three and a half quarters the Sixers and Hawks traded blows in their Sunday night Game 7 tilt at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia.
While it wasn't pretty, resembling a bare knuckle street fight more then a ballet with each possession more important than the previous, it had all the drama you could hope for in a Game 7 situation.
Like most games, there is a turning point, that moment when a decisive change in a situation occurs. Sunday night's Game 7 was no different and Joel Embiid did his best to try and described when it occurred.
"I don't know how to say it," Embiid hesitated. "I thought the turning point was when we had an open shot - and we made one free throw and missed the other. Then they came down and scored, we didn't get a good possession and then Trae (Young) came down and made a three and from there. I thought that was the turning point."
The play Embiid is referencing came with 3:29 left in the game the Sixers trailing by two, Ben Simmons spun to the baseline past defender Danilo Gallinari, only to pass up a wide open dunk, passing off to teammate Matisee Thybulle. Thybulle would be fouled and head to the free throw line, making one of two, to cut the Hawks lead to one point.
The play was a microcosm of the postseason Simmons had. We all know Simmons doesn't yearn to score 25 points per game, but has the ability to do so if he chooses on any given night.
In these playoffs, he not only chose not to score, he chose not to shoot, especially in the games biggest quarter, when the game mattered the most.
While Simmons acknowledged his short-comings in the series, its a small consolation for another disappointing second-round exit from the postseason, this time, losing three games on their home floor as the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference field.
“I did not shoot well from the line this series," Simmons admitted. "Offensively I wasn’t there. I didn’t do enough for my teammates. There’s a lot of things I need to work on.”
It wasn't only Simmons who was willing to acknowledge his shortcomings, as head coach Doc Rivers, who has done his best to defend Simmons all season and in these playoffs, could't sugar coat his disappointment.
"Obviously he struggled from the free-throw line and that became a factor in this series, there is no doubt at that " Rivers admitted. "I still believe in him, but we have work to do."
Rives was asked if Simmons could play the point guard position on a championship caliber team, and didn't give him a ringing endorsement.
"I don't know the answer to that right now," Rivers admitted.
There is no denying that Simmons is a unique talent, in a league that judges you based on scoring, he has become an All-Star by elevating others.
Oddly he hasn't figured out how to elevate himself.
His rare blend of size, speed and strength with his willingness to raise the level of others around him is unmatched in the league. However in the games biggest moments, unselfishness needs to back to seat to stardom, something Simmons seemingly isn't ready for or doesn't yearn for.
Sure he plays great defense, sure he has tremendous vision in the open floor with the ability to find the open man, elevating average players to good players and good players to very good players.
Should be an interesting offseason.