We’re talking free throws. Last night. This morning. Anyone who watched last nights Sixers and Wizards game is talking free throws. The only thing more basic to discuss regarding basketball might be lay-ups, but here we are talking free throws.
The Wizards cut a 14 point deficit to 3 points in the fourth quarter by sending Ben Simmons to the foul line in 11 straight possessions. Simmons shot 15 for 29 from the line.
I was in the building. People were screaming for Brett Brown to get him out of the game until the 2:00 minute mark. Take Ben out for who? TJ McConnell was out with a shoulder injury. Jerryd Bayless?
I’m not too sure Bayless out there with Reddick and Covington, who were a combined 8-24 from the field, would’ve been any better.
The brutal, nearly unwatchable fourth quarter was not the fault of Brett Brown or Scott Brooks. It’s the fault of Ben Simmons.
I love Ben Simmons. If I was buying a new Sixers jersey other than Andrew Toney, it would be Ben Simmons’. He’s a generational talent that should keep the 76ers competitive for the next decade and longer. He seems like a great kid, however he can’t shoot free throws.
Free throws do not take any special physical gifts and they are often the difference in many meaningful games. The only thing they do take is practice. Ben Simmons needs to be increasing his efforts in bettering his free throw percentage or Sixers fans are going to see the Hack-a-Simmons strategy far more than they’d like.
Brett Brown did the right thing by leaving Simmons in there. Hopefully, it was a learning experience and growth moment for Ben. He seems to live at the practice facility, which is a great thing. Maybe last night is the moment Simmons needed to make sure he jams as many free throws in as possible while he’s training in Camden.
Maybe I was wrong. Maybe it is partially Brett Brown and the Sixers’ coaching staff’s fault that we’re talking free throws, but not because they left Simmons on the court. No, that was the right thing to do. If Brown and the Sixers hold any culpability in this it’s because they had at least six months of a healthy Ben to help the kid improve his shooting.
Lost in all of this free throw talk is that the Sixers won. It wasn’t pretty, but they won. They survived the Hack-a-Simmons. Let’s hope Ben, Brett and the Sixers’ coaching staff get this free throw/shooting issue fixed before the Playoffs. That shouldn’t be too difficult, especially with shot doctor Herb Magee in such close proximity. And….underhand Barry style is always an option.
But yeah, we’re talking free throws.