'Scared to death': Ben Simmons torched after 76ers' NBA nightmare

·Sports Reporter
·5-min read
Ben Simmons scored just five points in Philadelphia's game seven loss to the Atlanta Hawks.
Ben Simmons is once again under fire after a rough performance in Philadelphia's game seven loss to the Atlanta Hawks in the NBA Playoffs. (Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)

Ben Simmons and the Philadelphia 76ers have been unceremoniously bundled out of the NBA playoffs after losing at home to Atlanta in the deciding game seven of their playoff series.

The Eastern Conference semi-finals were once again a roadblock for the Sixers, who finished the regular season with the top seed but were booed off the court after the 103-96 defeat.

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It was a stunning collapse out of the playoffs for the 76ers, who were tipped as credible championship contenders at the end of the regular season.

It simply wasn't to be though, with the fifth-seed Hawks stealing road wins in games one, five and seven to upset the highly favoured Sixers.

With the win, the Hawks secured their second straight series upset to earn an unlikely berth in the Eastern Conference finals against the Milwaukee Bucks.

They did so on Trae Young's worst shooting night of the playoffs. But Atlanta leaned on Kevin Huerter on offence and flustered 76ers players in a grind of a game that saw the home team struggle to generate scoring.

While Young failed throughout the game to connect from the field, he hit a big 3-pointer in the game's final minutes and made critical free throws down the stretch as the 76ers were forced to foul.

Huerter led the Hawks effort with 27 points and seven rebounds while connecting on 10-of-18 shots from the field.

Ben Simmons drives past Atlanta Hawks player Clint Capela.
Ben Simmons scored only five points in Philadelphia's loss to Atlanta, which saw them eliminated from the NBA Playoffs. (Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)

Young finished with 21 points and 10 assists on a 5-of-23 shooting night that saw him connect on just 2-of-11 3-point attempts. Ten of his 21 points arrived in the final quarter

For Philadelphia, it's another agonising playoff exit falling well short of the expectations of a No. 1 seed.

The 76ers left the home floor of the Wells Fargo to a chorus of boos from a frustrated Philadelphia fanbase.

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Speculation has already ramped up that the 76ers could make wholesale changes to the team over the off-season.

Simmons, in particular, faces an uncertain future after a largely disappointing playoff run, during which his shooting struggles were exposed in particularly brutal fashion.

The Australian star finished with five points, eight rebounds and 13 assists - but it was an ugly moment late in the fourth quarter which summed up the 76ers' frustrations with the 24-year-old.

After posting up Hawks rival Danilo Gallinari, a spin to the baseline looked to have earned Simmons a wide open layup - but he instead passed it off to teammate Matisse Thybulle, who was fouled on his layup attempt.

Sixers fans were filthy with Simmons over the play, having already become frustrated with his continued struggles at the free throw line as well.

The backlash on social media was harsh, with many tipping Simmons would be on a different team next season.

Making matters worse for Simmons, it wasn't just fans getting stuck into him.

Former NBA great and 76ers champion Charles Barkley said Simmons was 'scared to death' throughout the series, while 76ers coach Doc Rivers hardly endorsed the Australian star after the game.

"Obviously, he struggled from the free throw line, and that became a factor in this series," Rivers said.

"There’s no doubt about that. I still believe in him, but we have work to do. We’re going to have to get in the gym, put a lot of work in, and go forward.”

Of greater concern though, was Rivers' apparent lack of faith in Simmons to become a championship-calibre player.

"I don't know the answer to that right now," was Rivers' reply after he was asked whether Simmons could be the point guard on a championship team.

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