The Philadelphia 76ers had a great opportunity to make a long playoff run this season. Philadelphia had the best record in the Eastern Conference and was clear favorites against the Atlanta Hawks in the Eastern Conference semifinals.
After three games, the 76ers led the series against Atlanta 2-1 and had an 18-point lead in Game 4 and a 26-point lead in Game 5, but they would lose both games and ultimately lose the series in 7.
In the series against Atlanta, Ben Simmons, who was first-team all-defense this season, struggled on the offensive end. The three-time All-Star averaged 9.8 points per game in the series and shot 15/45 from the free-throw line. Late in Game 7, he had an opportunity for a dunk, but it passed it off. Simmons took only four shots in Game 7 and finished the game 2/4 from the field with only five points.
According to former NBA player C.J. Watson, a recent guest of the Go4it podcast hosted by Paul Gant, it was tough to watch Simmons struggle against the Hawks.
“I think it’s just a lack of confidence,” Watson said. “Honestly, it’s hard to watch, but the NBA Is going into bigger guards, which is fine, but you gotta be able to score. If I were a coach or GM, I would want to pick players, who are all threats on the court, so I want five people who can shoot the ball, who can dribble, and who can be all interchangeable. Things of that nature.”
When asked if the 76ers can have success with Simmons if he does not shoot, Watson said the following.
“Without shooting, I don’t think so,” Watson said. “I think he has to develop a jump shot, at least. “It doesn’t have to be a three-point jump shot. It has to be at least a free-throw line jump shot, be able to hit a pull-up jumper, something of that nature, but he has to be able to score the ball. Like we said, he’s already an effective player. If he could add that one piece to his game, he could be even better. and help his team more.”
Philadelphia has an interesting decision to make with Simmons. Do they keep him and hope he grows his game on the offensive end, or do they trade him?
If it were up to Watson, Simmons would be traded.
“I think I have to break them up,” Watson said about the Embiid-Simmons pairing. “I think they need more shooting around a guy like Joel Emibiid. He definitely has to have shooting. They have to take the model like the Phoenix Suns have. If you have a big like that, who can score the ball, you have to put a lot of shooting around him, a lot of guys who don’t need the ball, a lot of defensive guys. I think that’s what they’re missing.”
You can win with the 24-year-old Simmons if you don’t have to rely on his scoring, so if Philly can find another scorer, they can win. However, if they bring the same team back next season, they will continue to run into the same problems unless Simmons grows his game on the offensive end.
Watson talks Simmons at the 10:20 and the 31:46 mark of the video:
Former NBA player and Heisman Trophy winner Charlie Ward will join us to give his thoughts on the NBA Finals, Ben Simmons, his NBA career, how different things would or could be if he played NFL football, and how much money he could have made if he were allowed to make money on his likeness/image at Florida State.
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Former NBA player C.J. Watson talks Chris Paul, Trae Young, can the Bucks win the Finals without Giannis Antetokounmpo.
Watson believes that Derrick Rose is Hall of Famer, Ben Simmons has to shoot if he wants to be better, Dame Lillard’s future in Portland, can LeBron James win another title, and who is the best player in basketball?
Hall of Famer Sidney Moncrief talks NBA playoffs. Who will advance? Bucks or Hawks? What should the 76ers do with Ben Simmons?
Can it be fixed? Making the Hall of Fame, the impact of Eddie Sutton on his life, and his career developing people.
The Philadelphia 76ers were in complete control in Game 5 of their Eastern Conference second-round series against the Hawks on Wednesday night. Philly was up by as many as 26 points in the third quarter and entered the fourth quarter leading by 18 points.
However, things went south for Philadelphia in the fourth. The Hawks outscored the 76ers 40-19 in the final quarter, and ultimately, the comeback was complete as Atlanta defeated the 76ers 109-106 at Wells Fargo Center to take a 3-2 series lead.
According to ESPN Stats & Info, the 26-point blown lead was the third-largest blown lead in a playoff game over the last 25 postseasons.
Game 6 is on Friday night in Atlanta, and if the Hawks could pull it off, they will return to the Eastern Conference finals for the first time since 2015.
Trae Young had another huge game on the road. In six road playoff games, Young is averaging 32.2 points, 9.0 assists, and 3.0 rebounds. Young had 39 points and seven assists on Wednesday night, including 13 points in the fourth, and Lou Williams scored 13 of his 15 points in the final quarter.
What an amazing turnaround for the Hawks, and what a big-time letdown for the 76ers. In the past two games, Philadelphia, who had an 18-point lead against the Hawks in Game 4, has not gotten much from their top three players in the fourth quarter. Joel Embiid(1-10), Tobias Harris(0-5), and Ben Simmons(0-0) shot a combined 1/15 from the field in the fourth quarters of the last two games.
With their backs against the wall, Philadelphia will now have to win in a hostile environment to keep its season alive. State Farm Arena will be rocking on Friday night, but according to their head coach Doc Rivers, the 76ers will win Game 6 and bring the series back to Philly for Game 7 on Sunday night.
“We’ll get back up,” Rivers said postgame. “We’ll be back here for Game 7. I believe that.”
Philadelphia is still the better team in this series. Usually, the better team wins in a best-of-seven-series in the NBA, so expect the 76ers to bring this series back to Philadelphia and win it in 7. If they don’t, it will be a long offseason in Philadelphia
Simmons has struggled from the free-throw line in the playoffs and this series. The Hawks used the “Hack-a-Ben” strategy in Game 5, and it worked. Simmons shot 4-14 from the line on Wednesday night and became the first guard in NBA history to miss ten free throws in a playoff game, and the ten missed free throws are the most by any player in a game this season.
In the playoffs this season, Simmons is shooting 33% from the foul line.
-Seth Curry had a career-playoff-high 36 points on Wednesday night. Curry shot 13/19 from the field, including 7/12 from three-point range.
NBA Defensive Player of the Year Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert and Philadelphia 76ers guard Ben Simmons lead the 2020-21 NBA All-Defensive First Team, the NBA announced on Monday.
Joining Gobert and Simmons on the NBA All-Defensive First Team are Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green, Milwaukee Bucks guard Jrue Holiday, and forward Giannis Antetokounmpo.
Gobert, a three-time Defensive Player of the Year, has been named to the NBA All-Defensive First Team for the fifth season in a row. This marks the second straight First Team selection for Simmons, the runner-up for NBA Defensive Player of the Year this season.
Green has been selected to the NBA All-Defensive First Team for the fourth time to go with two Second Team honors. Holiday is a First Team honoree for the second time. Antetokounmpo, the 2019-20 Kia NBA Defensive Player of the Year and a two-time Kia NBA Most Valuable Player, has earned his third consecutive NBA All-Defensive First Team selection.
The 2020-21 NBA All-Defensive Second Team consists of Miami Heat forward Bam Adebayo and guard Jimmy Butler, 76ers center Joel Embiid and guard Matisse Thybulle , and LA Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard.
Leonard has been named to the NBA All-Defensive Team (First Team and Second Team) for the seventh time. This is the fifth NBA All-Defensive Team selection for Butler, the third for Embiid, and the second for Adebayo. Thybulle is making his All-Defensive Team debut in his second NBA season.
The Atlanta Hawks got off to a great start on Sunday in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals against the Philadelphia 76ers. Atlanta shot 72 percent from the field in the first quarter, including 6/12 from three-point range, and would lead 42-27 after one quarter and led 74-54 at halftime.
The Hawks would withstand a furious Philly rally in the fourth quarter to win 128-124 at Wells Fargo Center.
Game 2 is Tuesday night in Philadelphia.
The 76ers had a hard time slowing down Trae Young. The All-Star point guard hurt the 76ers with his shot and passing ability. Young scored 25 of his 35 points in the first half and had 10 assists. According to StatMuse, Young became the first Hawks player with 35 points and 10 assists in game since 1965.
Philadelphia had no answers for Young and his teammates. Atlanta averages 12 three-pointers made per game. But the Hawks made a franchise-record 20 three-pointers on Sunday and had Philly scrambling throughout the game. Bogdan Bogdanovic had 21 points, including five threes, Young had four threes, and John Collins also added 21 points and made three threes
Danny Green mostly guarded Young in the first half and could not contain him. The 76ers went with Ben Simmons on Young in the second half, but he picked up two quick fouls, and ultimately he was moved off of Young. However, in Game 2, Simmons wants to guard Young.
“I mean, I want to,” Simmons said about guarding Young. “If the refs aren’t going to call so many fouls and I can be physical and be 6-10, then I’ll be 6-10. But we’ll see.”
Philadelphia did get MVP finalist Joel Embiid back in this game after coming back from a torn meniscus, and he played very well. Embiid scored 39 points and grabbed nine rebounds, and as he goes forward, Embiid hopes to be able to manage the injury.
“All I have to do is keep managing it, do my best, try to get as much treatment as I can,” Embiid said. “Try to manage it to make sure it doesn’t swell up too much.”
If the Hawks shoot as they did in Game 1, they could sweep the first two games in Philly but expect a better defensive effort out of the 76ers, who has the second-rated defense in basketball.
The Hawks got what they wanted at this point, which is split, but now they have to get greedy and try to capture Game 2.
The Washington Wizards had no answer for Joel Embiid in Game 3 of their first-round series on Saturday night; the MVP finalist shot 14/18 from the field, including 3/4 from three-point range to score a playoff career-high 36 points in 28 minutes of action as the 76ers defeated Washington 132-103 on Saturday night at Capital One Arena.
With the victory, Philadelphia takes a commanding 3-0 lead with a chance to sweep the series on Monday night. Every player in Philly’s starting lineup scored in double figures. Tobias Harris had 20 points and 13 rebounds, and Danny Green added 15 points, including five threes.
Philadelphia shot 58% from the field on Saturday night and shot 51% from three-point range(17/33).
Washington cannot do anything to slow Embiid down. The four-time All-star is averaging 29.3 points, 7.0 rebounds, and 2.7 assists in this series. There was a big crowd at Capital One Arena for the first time this season, and at times, you could hear “MVP’ chants for Embiid in D.C.
“I can’t imagine anybody playing better than him,” Wizards head coach Scott Brooks said about Embiid. “That was MVP-level tonight. Tried different things on him tonight. Good player. He’s definitely a handful.”
Bradley Beal, who had 25 points in Game 3, talked about the greatness of Embiid.
“He’s a special talent,” Beal said. “You gotta respect him and tip your cap to him. Our whole game plan is basically centered around him. He’s a three-level scorer. He can score from outside on the three. He’s not like most bigs in the league; he can put the ball on the floor, shoot 3s, plays like a guard. It’s kind of crazy.”
Russell Westbrook(ankle) was a game-time decision, and to no one’s surprise, the former MVP played in Game 3 and had a triple-double with 26 points, 12 rebounds, and 10 assists.
“I kind of knew after last game he was going to play,” Beal said. “Even if it was for two minutes, he was going to play.”
Now, the Wizards try to avoid the sweep on Monday night, which won’t be easy. Washington has many questions but little to no answers for what Philly is throwing at them. They tried to insert Davis Bertans in the lineup to get more size and shooting, but that did not work as the team shot 8/35 from three-point range.
Philly is just a bad matchup for Washington. Including the regular season, the 76ers are 6-0 against the Wizards. Even a 60-point outburst from Beal in the regular season was not enough to beat Philadelphia, so it’s going to take an extraordinary performance from a few different players for Washington to get a game in this series.