Doc Rivers is attempting damage control about 3 months too late regarding the whole Ben Simmons trade saga. Or so it seems from today’s First Take.
The 2008 NBA championship-winning coach with the Celtics took over as the Sixers’ head coach last year. He unlocked the team, and especially Joel Embiid, in a fashion that we hadn’t seen them play before.
They romped to the first seed during the regular season, winning nearly 70% of all their games. However, their playoffs were a damning indictment of their roster construction. One of the sore sticky points for the Sixers was the dismal performance by their All-Star point guard.
Ben attempted 3 shots in the 4th quarter of a 7-game series. He was afraid to drive the ball to the bucket because that would send him to the free throw line, where he set an NBA playoff record for missed freebies by a guard.
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Things got to a point where Ben simply refused to even look at the hoop in the halfcourt setting at the end of the series. It was simply untenable for the Sixers to continue in such a state. They ended up losing the series, and Ben became the primary scapegoat.
“We can with a title with Ben Simmons, I believe that”: Doc Rivers
Doc Rivers himself had expressed doubt at Simmons’ ability to ever become a championship point guard in the post-game presser after Game 7. It might have contributed a big deal to Simmons’ demand for a trade from the front office.
However, it seems that now that the Sixers don’t have a good trade in the works, they’ll be attempting to court Ben back. It’s going to be a tough ask getting him back on Philly fans’ side. But you can’t blame Doc for the lack of trying. Not after his statements on First Take today:
“He (Ben Simmons) did commit last year, he bought into what we were trying to do. The second one is absolutely true, it is about the free throws. We don’t even need him to be at 70.”
“We hired a free throw coach, a shooting coach, we want to get him better in the gym. Because I believe that’s the one thing that frees him up. I’m not sure what the actual stat is, but Trae Young was 5-of-24. Who did that?”
“We can win a title with Ben [Simmons]. I just believe that.”
—Philadelphia 76ers Head Coach Doc Rivers pic.twitter.com/bF4KLNgLcW
— First Take (@FirstTake) September 22, 2021
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