Ben Simmons’ ability to be a big-game performer in the playoffs has been questioned again after the Australian became the first player this season to miss 10 free throws in a game during a poor semi-final loss to Atlanta.
Simmons was below his best as the 76ers blew an 18-point lead at three-quarter time to lose and give the Hawks a 3-2 lead in the seven-game series.
The Hawks scored 15 unanswered points during the fourth quarter, with the 76ers unable to find the basket.
Simmons copped strong criticism for his failings at the free-throw line, missing six of his eight free throws in the first half before finishing with four of 14 from the charity stripe.
The Boomers guard had eight points, nine assists and four rebounds in 38 minutes on the court, but all the post-game discussion centred around his shooting woes.
Ben Simmons has been caned for his shooting in a bad semi-final loss. Picture: Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images/AFPSource:AFP
Simmons is shooting at 32.8 per cent from the free-throw line this post-season, missing 44 in total.
Amazingly, he has missed more free throws than three of the teams remaining in the NBA playoffs race. (Atlanta Hawks, 35 Phoenix Suns, 29 Brooklyn Nets, 22).
Simmons has already messed up more free-throw attempts in the NBA playoffs than Golden State Warriors star Steph Curry missed during the entire regular season.
Renowned poor free-throw shooter Shaquille O’Neal attempted at least 50 free throws in 13 playoffs, with his worst percentage 39.3 per cent.
Simmons’s post-season percentage is 32.8 per cent, and he conceded his struggles were in the mind.
“Definitely, I think, mental,” said Simmons, who also faces question marks if he is the big-game player the Boomers need to secure a first Olympic medal.
When asked about being subbed out in the fourth quarter, Simmons replied: “Obviously I got to knock down free throws and step up and do that, but it is what it is. Coach’s decision.”
Simmons’s 76ers must beat the Hawks in Atlanta on Saturday morning from 9.30am (AEST) to force a Game 7 back in Philadelphia.
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