Melbourne Demons star Christian Petracca has teed off at Philadelphia 76ers centre Joel Embiid for blaming teammate Ben Simmons for his side’s NBA Playoffs loss.
The Sixers went down by seven points in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Semis on Sunday, with Simmons benched to finish the game after scoring just five points.
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The Australian had a spectacular mental breakdown, putting up just four shot attempts as his team fell 103-96 in Game 7 against the Hawks.
The 24-year-old admitted after the game he didn’t have a good series, scoring 69 points in seven games.
Speaking post-game, Embiid appeared to throw Simmons under the bus when asked for his take on the match, saying: “I thought the turning point was when we … I don’t know how to say it … is when we had an open shot and we made one free throw.”
He went on to say: “I thought that was the turning point”.
Both moments appeared to reference Simmons, who opted not to go for an easy dunk and missed a free throw in the fourth quarter.
Ben Simmons did not just pass this up… pic.twitter.com/4JyM7ZHNkJ
Now a war of words has sparked after AFL star Petracca — who played junior basketball with Simmons and remains a close friend of the 24-year-old — took to Instagram and hit out at Embiid for the comments.
“8 turnovers twice in the series and wasn’t clutch? Maybe look at your own game before you blame someone else,” Petracca wrote.
“Bit rich and weak, @JoelEmbiid”.
Melbourne Demons star Christian Petracca and leapt to the defence of his friend Ben Simmons, who was slammed by Joel Embiid for not taking an open dunk in their playoff exit. personal friend (Photo by Michael Willson/AFL Photos via Getty Images)Source:Getty Images
Christian Petracca’s Instagram story on Monday.Source:Instagram
Simmons has copped it from all angles for his lacklustre performance in the 76ers’ playoff exit.
The pile-on included Shaquille O’Neal declaring on live TV he would have knocked Simmons out if he was a teammate inside the Sixers’ dressing room.
“If he was in my locker room, I would have knocked his ass out,” the NBA legend said after Simmons’ disappearance in the series decider.
The Sixers head into free agency as one of the most intriguing rosters in the game — with widespread speculation Simmons, or most of the team’s roster, could get blown up for another re-start.
Simmons is at the centre of the speculation, and here are a few reasons why:
— For two consecutive games Rivers benched Simmons in the final two minutes with the game on the line.
— He finished the 2021 NBA Playoffs shooting 25 of 73 from the charity stripe. According to ESPN Stats, it is the worst free throw percentage ever seen in the NBA Playoffs, for a minimum of 70 free-throws attempted; and
— In the last six games of the series, Simmons attempted just one fourth quarter shot, scoring a total six points in fourth quarters for the seven game series. He finishes the series with 69 points from seven games.
Originally published as‘Rich and weak’: Simmons’ unlikely ally
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