Opinion: 76ers, Ben Simmons enter long offseason of discontent after NBA playoff ouster vs. Hawks

The Ben Simmons bashing began long before Game 7 on Sunday.

But it took on a frenetic Philadelphia fandom fevered pitch after the Sixers were eliminated from the playoffs in a 103-96 loss to the Atlanta Hawks on Sunday in the series finale of the Eastern Conference semifinals series.

For the fourth consecutive season, the Sixers failed to reach the conference finals, losing in the conference semifinals in 2018, 2019 and 2021 and falling in the first round last season.

The long offseason of the Sixers’ discontent started before the team even left the arena, and while there’s plenty of blame to go around for the Sixers not only squandering a 2-1 series lead but blowing 18- and 26-point leads in Games 4 and 5, Simmons is the focal point of that blame.

Asked if Simmons can be a point guard for a championship team, Philadelphia coach Doc Rivers said, “I don’t know the answer to that right now.”

Against Atlanta, Simmons averaged 9.9 points, 8.6 assists and 6.3 rebounds and shot 60% from the field and an unacceptable 33% (15-for-45) from the foul line.

“Obviously, he struggled from the free-throw line, and that became a factor in the series, there’s no doubt about that,” Rivers said.

The foul shooting has been a problem his whole career. But, it seemed it had a devastating impact on his confidence and ability to be a quality playmaker against Atlanta.

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