By Dylan MacKinnon
Well, it is over. Despite being the one seed, and having seemed to turn a corner this year, the Sixers once again went out in the 2nd round. There are a lot of things that did go wrong, but let’s look at 5 numbers that I believe tell the story of how the Sixers once again failed. Not only in game 7, but in this series, in this season, and now throughout the entire Process.
In the last 4 games of the season, Ben Simmons took 0 shots in the 4th quarter. In the entire series, he attempted only 3 shots in the 4th quarter. I guess on the other hand he did shoot 100% in 4th quarters this series, but as Wayne Gretzky once said “You miss 100% of the Shots you don’t take.” Ben Simmons was worse than a non-factor on the court at the end of games. He was actively in the way and making it harder for his team mates to get to the basket.
The worst part is he had chances. He had a path to the rim. Moments where at 6’10 player who is among the fastest in the league with his power should easily take it to the rim. But he wouldn’t. He literally passed up easy baskets. Then in game 7, he was under the rim with an easy dunk chance to tie it, and he passed it to Thybulle who was fouled and went 1 for 2 at the line. He had a chance to be a hero, and he came up small. His play at the end of games was unacceptable. He was scared. Scared to be fouled and sent to the line. Scared to take a chance. Scared to even attempt to score the ball.
In 34 career playoff games, Ben Simmons has made 5 shots outside of 10 feet (from the basket).— Paul Hembekides (@PaulHembo) June 21, 2021
We aren’t done with Ben Simmons yet. Because it was not just the 4th quarter where he was worse than useless on offense. Ben had four games where he failed to even score double digits. Across seven games, he scored a total of 69 pts. In the final 3 games he has 19 pts. He scored 6 and 5 pts in their two elimination games. Season on the line, and he can only take 10 shots, and only score 11. 5.5 pts per game in elimination games.
He barley scored more than Matisse Thybulle. Thybulle. The guy who scored 3.9 pts a game this year, and played half the minutes Ben did. Would replacing Ben in the starting lineup with Thybulle impact the offense at all? Is he no more impactful on offense than a guy scoring less than 4pts a game? Thybulle can at least space the court a little bit, even if he isn’t good at it.
One more for Ben. He shot 25-73 (34.2%) from the line in the playoffs. That rate is the worst in NBA history with a minimum 70 attempts. He missed 48 FTs. As a team, the Nets only missed 28. He took 45 Fts in this series. He only made 15. Iff he goes 50% at the line, he would have had 20 more pts in the series. 89 pts in a 7 games series would still be bad, but it’s the difference between 12.7 pts per game, and 9.9. That is almost three extra pts a game. They lost two games this series by 3 pts. Even if he doesn’t take any extra field goals, just being mediocre FT shooter, might have been enough to win them one more game. But instead, he was the worst FT shooter ever, and the Sixers lost in 7. And here is one more interesting depressing fact about Ben’s Ft shooting, per Derek Bodner.
Ben Simmons has missed more free-throws in these last two rounds than Steve Nash did in his entire playoff career.— Derek Bodner (@DerekBodnerNBA) June 20, 2021
Doc Rivers already held the record for times his team lost a playoff series they had a lead in with 10. Now after taking a 2-1 series lead, and losing it, it goes to 11 times his teams have choked in the playoffs. To make it worse, the Sixers blew two double digit half time leads, also something his Clippers did twice last year. He has a NBA ring, he is among the winningest coaches in NBA history, but his lasting legacy may be his teams falling apart in the playoffs. Whether it is this Sixers team, the Clippers multiple times, the Celtics, or even his Magic teams. Across 4 teams and 22 seasons, he has come up short almost half the time. It’s not just that his teams are worse, he has coached the “better team” into losses too many times to ignore.
The process started 8 years ago when Sam Hinkie was hired May 14th, 2013. How much do the Sixers have to show for it? They have gone from first round exits every year, the second round. Joel Embiid is the only positive as of now. They got one Superstar, and a bunch of wasted high picks. Nerlens Noel, bust. Jahlil Okafor, bust. Markelle Fultz, bust.
We thought Ben Simmons was the other big get. And to be fair he is very good at certain things, and the talent is there. But talent is pointless if you don’t use it. He has again come up small when it matters most. So in reality, out of the 5 high picks they got in the process, 1 has truly worked out. Is this really better than what we were getting. I was in favor of The process, but its getting hard to say it was anything other than a failure at this point. Perhaps they can save it if they can move on from Ben, get Joel a better partner in crime, and still mage to win in Embiid’s prime. But that is a big if. For now, The process is a failure.
Since "The Process" started in ’13-14— StatMuse (@statmuse) June 21, 2021
BOS: 7 playoffs, 3 East Finals
TOR: 7 playoffs, 2 E. Finals
MIL: 6 playoffs, 2 E. Finals
IND: 6 playoffs, 1 E. Finals
MIA: 5 playoffs, 2 E. Finals
ATL: 5 playoffs, 2 E. Finals
WAS: 5 playoffs
BKN: 5 playoffs
PHI: 4 playoffs, 0 East Finals pic.twitter.com/qEHgHd82ct