Since the Philadelphia 76ers are on the brink of elimination in the Eastern Conference semifinals, head coach Doc Rivers will need his superstars to step up tonight in Atlanta. Even if they win and force Game 7 though, ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith isn’t convinced the 76ers are true contenders.
Earlier this week, Smith unleashed a fiery rant on the 76ers and why they won’t win the NBA Finals this year. He believes a lot of the blame falls on the shoulders of Ben Simmons.
Simmons has plenty of great qualities on the court, no one will deny that. However, the former No. 1 pick has been unable to knock down shots outside of the paint.
This isn’t anything new for Simmons, who has attempted just 34 three-pointers over the course of his NBA career. The issue though is that teams like the Hawks have been able to expose his biggest flaw, which is why Smith is down on the 76ers right now.
“I had this conversation with Doc Rivers at the beginning of the season. I’ll say it again, I said it to him and I’ll say it to everybody who will listen. Ben Simmons can’t shoot, and as a result, that’s why the Philadelphia 76ers ain’t going to win the title,” Smith said. “When your primary ball-handler and decision-maker is not a threat to shoot the ball beyond five feet, that is a problem. And then when you take into account the free throw shooting – Ben Simmons has missed 26-of-39 free throws.”
Smith said that Simmons’ struggles from the free throw line are embarrassing and inexcusable.
I'll say it again: Ben Simmons can't shoot, and as a result, that's why the 76ers AIN'T gonna win the title! pic.twitter.com/9QqIPrngDQ
— Stephen A Smith (@stephenasmith) June 18, 2021
Simmons’ shooting woes were on full display in Game 5, as he went 4-of-14 from the free throw line. If his struggles continue in Game 6, Rivers will have no choice but to sit him.
“When Ben makes them, we get to keep him in,” Rivers told reporters. “When he doesn’t, we can’t. And that’s just the way it is.”
We’ll find out tonight if Simmons can bounce back and keep the 76ers’ season alive.