On Sunday night (June 20), the Philadelphia 76ers were sent home after the Atlanta Hawks won 103-96 in Game 7 of their Eastern Conference semifinal. Amid the game, 76ers star Ben Simmons passed up many shots — including what many deemed to be an easy layup — and he’s since been blamed for his team’s loss. Among the critics was Shaquille O’Neal, who admitted he would be less than nice if he were Simmons’ teammate.
“It don’t take seven games for you to realize you’re not playing right,” O’Neal said.
“Get right. Be aggressive. That’s all I want. Just be aggressive. I don’t want to hear all that [excuses]. Stop that, cut it out...If he was in my locker room, I would have knocked his ass out.”
Shaq was one of few NBA analysts who said that Simmons contributed to the 76ers’ loss in Game 7. “Ben Simmons has GOT to go!” said Stephen A. Smith.
Even Simmons admitted that he has work to do following his lackluster performance in Game 7.
“I ain’t shoot well from the line this series,” he told ESPN. “Offensively, I wasn’t there. I didn’t do enough for my teammates...There’s a lot of things that I need to work on.”
Fortunately, 76ers coach Doc Rivers is willing to help Simmons improve during the off-season.
“I believe, without going into detail with what we’re doing, I believe we know what the right work is...and the right way to do it,” Rivers said in an interview with ESPN.
“You can do the work all the time, but if it’s not done in the right way and the right type of work, you may not improve. After being here for a year, I really do believe we’ve identified what and how, and now we have to do the part. We have to work to do it. It’s not going to be an easy job, but it’s definitely a job that Ben can do.”