'Painful to watch': NBA in disbelief over 'crazy' Ben Simmons fail

·Sports Reporter
·5-min read
Ben Simmons' poor free throw shooting was highlighted in Tuesday's loss to the Washington Wizards. (Photo by Stephen Gosling/NBAE via Getty Images)
Ben Simmons' poor free throw shooting was highlighted in Tuesday's loss to the Washington Wizards. (Photo by Stephen Gosling/NBAE via Getty Images)

It's Ben Simmons' fifth season in the NBA, but opponents are still able to take advantage of his biggest weakness - free throws.

The Aussie star's struggles at the charity stripe are no secret, with his career percentage of 59.7 per cent among the lowest for NBA guards.

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That weakness was well and truly exploited by the Washington Wizards on Tuesday, as they won back some pride to beat the Philadelphia 76ers 122-114 in game four of their first round playoff series.

The Sixers suffered a cruel blow early when a heavy fall prompted MVP candidate Joel Embiid to leave the floor just before the end of the first quarter.

Embiid didn't return to the game, and with his dominant paint presence erased the Wizards had a much easier time slowing down Simmons.

As the game got close down the stretch, the Wizards resorted to simply hacking Simmons to send him to the free throw line - thereby ruining any chance of a Sixers comeback.

Simmons made just five of his 11 chances at the line, leaving some fans frustrated by the consistently poor shooting that has been one of his hallmark weaknesses.

The situation left 76ers coach Doc Rivers with the unenviable decision to either bench Simmons, arguably the team's best defender, or leave him out there at the risk of compromising the team's offence. 

Prominent NBA commentator Skip Bayless tweeted that it was 'hard to watch' Simmons brick so many crucial free throws late in the game.

“Painful to watch Ben Simmons missing free throws after being intentionally fouled," he wrote. 

"Doc can’t take him out — he’s a star, a defensive force. Doc would risk losing him psychologically. 

"But Ben eventually must learn how to make 70% of his FTs under pressure. Or get subbed.”

There was plenty more similar criticism of Simmons, but Rivers was having none of it.

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He launched a spirited defence of Simmons when asked about the 24-year-old's free throw issues.

“You want me to take Ben Simmons off the floor? He’s pretty good, so I’ll pass on that suggestion,” Rivers said.

“You guys keep this Ben Simmons narrative going, which is freaking insane. Ben is not a 40-point guy. I just don’t understand why this is not sinking in in this city.

“If I’m Ben, I’d get tired of it. Celebrate him and all the things he does well.

“You guys keep the Ben Simmons narrative going, we’re going to keep playing.”

Philadelphia look to close series despite Embiid injury

Simmons finished with 13 points and 12 rebounds after Embiid fell awkwardly on a drive to the basket in the opening term and was ruled out of the remainder of the game with knee soreness.

"Obviously, we need Joel to win. He's a big part of this team," Simmons said.

The four-time All-Star centre had eight points and six rebounds in his 11 minutes after erupting for a career playoff-high 36 points in the 76ers' 132-103 win in Game 3.

After staying down for a moment, a wincing Embiid rose and then put his hand on his lower right back.

Russell Westbrook's 12th career playoff triple-double and Bradley Beal's 27 points helped the Wizards stave off elimination.

Joel Embiid left Philadelphia's playoff loss to Washington in the first quarter after a nasty fall. (Photo by Stephen Gosling/NBAE via Getty Images)
Joel Embiid left Philadelphia's playoff loss to Washington in the first quarter after a nasty fall. (Photo by Stephen Gosling/NBAE via Getty Images)

The top-seeded 76ers, who were bidding for their first sweep since eliminating Milwaukee in a best-of-five, first-round series in 1991, can advance with a home win in Game 5 on Wednesday.

Joe Ingles' Utah Jazz, the team with the NBA's best record in the regular season, are on the verge of closing out their first round, best-of-seven series against the Memphis Grizzlies.

With Donovan Mitchell scoring 30 points, the top-seeded Jazz grabbed a 3-1 lead to hold off the Grizzlies 120-113.

All-Star Rudy Gobert scored 13 of his 17 points in the third quarter.

Jordan Clarkson scored 24, Bojan Bogdanovic added 13 and Mike Conley had 11.

Game 5 will be played in Salt Lake City on Thursday morning (AEST).

With AAP

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