‘Had an Open Shot’: Philadelphia 76ers’ Joel Embiid Indirectly Blames Ben Simmons for Game 7 Loss to Hawks

Published 06/21/2021, 12:47 AM EDT
Jun 20, 2021; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid (21) reacts after scoring against the Atlanta Hawks during the first quarter of game seven of the second round of the 2021 NBA Playoffs at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports


The Philadelphia 76ers choked when it mattered and crashed out of the 2021 NBA Playoffs. They entered into the series as favorites against the Hawks, but now seven games later, they’re packing their bags for home. And to make matters worse, there might be trouble brewing up between their duo of Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid.

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In the post-game press conference, Embiid talked about where he felt the 76ers lost the game. He said, “I’ll be honest. 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…”

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The play he is referring to is where Simmons had an open dunk but chose to pass instead. He was posting up against Hawks’ Danilo Gallinari and managed to beat him. With the rim wide open in front of him, he passed it to an unexpecting Matisse Thybulle. The sophomore tried to go for a finish but was fouled. He proceeded to make just one of his two free throws.

Embiid looked bewildered when he saw these events unfold in front of him and would have lost his patience with Simmons right then. The Australian finished the game with just 5 points and although he had 13 assists, that was clearly not enough.

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How long will the Philadelphia 76ers continue with this duo?

In the last few years, fans observed how Simmons and Embiid weren’t able to fully co-exist with each other. Other guard-big duos have at least one player who is a proficient shooter. But when it comes to Simmons and Embiid, neither of them has a reliable jumpshot. The Cameroonian has still developed a mid-range shot and can occasionally hit threes. But Simmons has no shooting ability at all.

May 31, 2021; Washington, District of Columbia, USA; Philadelphia 76ers guard Ben Simmons (25) reacts after the basket during the first quarter against the Washington Wizards during game four in the first round of the 2021 NBA Playoffs. at Capital One Arena. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

That handicaps the team, and the rest of the roster has to be filled with players who can shoot. There is no doubt about Simmons’ playmaking and defensive capabilities. But paying him $170 million just to do that is a massive overpay.

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Feb 27, 2021; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid (21) reacts after a foul call during the first quarter against the Cleveland Cavaliers at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

The 76ers need to get rid of Simmons as soon as possible and give Embiid some real help, and not a player who needs to be benched in the clutch because of his inability to make free throws or jump shots. Embiid is an MVP candidate and if the 76ers fail to surround him with a capable cast, he might think about leaving when his contract is up.

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Aaron Mathew

1664 articles

Aaron Mathew is a sports analyst at EssentiallySports. A graduate in Mass Media from Xavier’s College, Aaron has been a part of EssentiallySports since May 2020 where he covers both NBA and NCAA basketball news, and has also covered NBA 2K. In the past, Aaron has worked at the Sports Desk of Mumbai Mirror.

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