Ben Simmons ‘free throw difficulties contribute to 76ers’ missed chance to sweep Wizards
The 76ers’ chances of sweeping the Wizards disappeared with every Ben Simmons free throw on Monday.
Philadelphia, who were looking to wipe out the Wizards and advance to the second round of the NBA Playoffs, saw that opportunity dwindle after Joel Embiid left the game in the first quarter with knee pain. Following Embiid’s exit, Washington targeted Simmons in the fourth quarter, choosing to send him to the free throw line in a new-age Hack-a-Shaq strategy.
Upon entering the game, Simmons was 0 for 9 from the series charity band. He was 1 of 3 in the game before the Wizards fully committed to injuring him in the fourth quarter. He split each of his four trips to the free throw line (4 for 8) to ultimately end up 5 for 11 in the evening.
This ultimately resulted in Washington’s first win in the series, sending the game back to Philadelphia with a 122-114 win for the Wizards. The last time the Sixers swept a team was in 1985, against Milwaukee.
Philadelphia coach Doc Rivers scoffed at the idea that he would take Simmons off the ground as he continued to struggle with the charity band:
“You want me to take Ben Simmons to the floor? No. He’s pretty good,” Rivers said. I will pass this suggestion on. “
Rivers also had no problem with the Wizards’ strategy of continuing to harass the playmaker, who entered the game shooting 61.3 percent from the free throw line.
“Obviously that’s what they’re going to do,” Rivers said. “That’s what they should be doing. And I’m okay with that.”
Despite struggling for free throws, Simmons finished the game with a double-double: 13 points and 12 rebounds. Tobias Harris led the 76ers with 21 points and 13 rebounds. Washington’s Bradley Beal had 27 points, the game-high, while Russell Westbrook had another triple-double with 19 points, 21 rebounds and 14 assists.
Simmons wasn’t the only reason Philadelphia lost on Monday, but that didn’t stop Twitter from releasing the hot jokes and takes:
Ben Simmons walks over to the free throw line as he is asked to clean his room
– Mina Kimes (@minakimes) June 1, 2021
Painful to see Ben Simmons miss free throws after being the victim of an intentional foul. Doc can’t get him out – he’s a star, a defensive force. Doc would risk losing him psychologically. But Ben must finally learn to put 70% of his FT under pressure. Or have yourself captioned.
– Skip Bayless (@RealSkipBayless) June 1, 2021