Reaction to the Embarrassment That Was the Philadelphia 76ers in Game Seven.
No takeaways, no bullet points, this one is purely going to be me ranting/processing everything I saw on Sunday night. There is a ton to unpack here in what was likely a franchise-altering loss for the 76ers. To think a team that looked so dominant throughout the regular season, that came out as the top seed in the East, could bounce out in the second round to a team that switched coaches mid-season is painful. There are, unfortunately, many parts to this game seven that make things even more depressing though.
There’s no place better to start than with Ben Simmons. I’ve defended the man from dusk till dawn for years, watched him show true promise and potential, and to now land here is one of the most painful parts of this season. Ben Simmons did nothing to silence the critics, to improve and step up when the team truly needed him most. All series long Ben’s confidence has slowly diminished.
First it was the free throws, where he continued to struggle more and more as each game passed. Then, that doubt festered and spread to his offensive game as a whole. In the do-or-die game seven, in front of the Sixers faithful, Ben Simmons shot the ball four times for five points. No sequence will ever fully encapsulate Simmons’ failures and lack of confidence this post-season than the video of him passing up a literal one-footer layup. With just over three minutes left, down two, Ben Simmons actually passed out of a shot under the basket. While I still believe Ben doesn’t need to ever become a big scoring threat, there’s a difference between being pass-first and scared to shoot.
Now, the national media and NBA casuals get to say they were right about Ben, all because he let his mental get to him on the biggest stage in one of the biggest games of his career. I truly do not know what the future holds for Ben, but I truly hope he works on his craft and lets this motivate him to play to his potential.
While Simmons was certainly the biggest issue in game seven, he wasn’t the only problem. As painful as this is as well, Doc Rivers coached a terrible game in a true do-or-die situation. I understand that losing a starter makes rotations very difficult for a coach, but there was no excuse for an all-bench lineup. I do not care that some of the starters got in foul trouble early, one of Tobias, Curry, Embiid, or Simmons should’ve always been on the court. It is a game seven, rest for future games doesn’t matter if you lose.
Next was the insane amount of minutes George Hill was playing. I understand he’s a vet that has played in games like this, but the man has been bad on both ends of the court. How do you expect him to guard Danillo Gallinari who has a literal foot on him? That’s a matchup Doc Rivers not only saw coming, but then continued to let happen by not making a substitution. On top of all of that, Rivers had no sort of offensive game plan, and it showed through the constant trips down the court that ended in a wild contested three or Embiid fading away from a double team. Rivers was certainly not dealt a great hand with the struggles of Simmons making a ton of situations seem like 4-on-5, but there were tons of coaching blunders that certainly ruined the Sixers’ chances as well.
76ERS DEFENSE ON TRAE YOUNG
My last piece is simply going to be a full-on rant about the game-state as a whole, and how the Sixers couldn’t win. Just let this sink in, the Hawks won a game seven where Trae Young only made FIVE SHOTS from the field on 23 attempts. Instead, the Sixers let a lanky, irrelevant red-headed dude post 27 points on their head. Trae Young has been on fire in the series, scoring 30 points in five games, and the one game he’s completely cold from the field you can’t even muscle out a win.
On top of all of that, the Sixers offensive scheme has always been an “Inside-Out” style, getting into the paint with their bigger starting lineup and kicking to shooters when the defense collapses. The Sixers all season were one of the highest scorers in the paint, and shot a low amount of threes, and it worked. The Hawks on the other hand live and die by the three ball. So in what world does it make sense the Sixers attempted more threes than the Hawks in game seven. Just to put a cherry on top too, the Sixers turned the ball over seventeen times in an elimination game, because of course they can’t fix the small mistakes when their backs are against the wall.
All in all, I truly do not know where the team goes from here. I have no clue what the 2021-2022 Sixers will look like come October, all I know is this year will go down as the Sixers’ best shot at a title for the next few decades. Now onto one of the biggest off-seasons in recent Sixers history, thank god we have Daryl Morey at the helm.
Mandatory Credit: Yong Kim.