Ben Simmons has responded to his free-throw struggles in style with an impressive triple-double in a big win over Washington to guide his Philadelphia 76ers into the Eastern Conference semi-finals.
Simmons’s poor free-throw shooting, which has prompted rival teams to deliberately foul the Boomers guard, has dominated playoff discussion.
But in the big moment without injured star centre Joel Embiid, the Melbourne-born star stood up to steer the 76ers to a 129-112 victory over the Wizards.
Simmons finished with an ultra-efficient 19 points, 10 rebounds and 11 assists.
He was also beastlike on the defensive end, locking down Washington’s stars while adding two blocks and one steal.
Ben Simmons has struggled from the free-throw line. Picture: Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images.Source:Getty Images
Simmons’s free-throw shooting also improved to five from eight (62.5 per cent) from the penalty stripe.
He also dropped two crucial free throws after Washington purposely fouled him, hoping he would miss.
The Wizards stopped this tactic when Simmons landed his free throws in a big win for the Australian star.
76ers coach Doc Rivers urged the critics to back off Simmons and appreciate his matchwinning brilliance.
“Ben was incredible,” Rivers said.
“I keep saying it, let’s stick with him.
“He is a hell of a player and just stick with him. He is also human, and he is going to have far more great games than bad ones, and that is who he is.
“He just does so much for the team, he really does.”
Ben Simmons has hit back at critics with an impressive triple-double. Picture: Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images.Source:AFP
Washington coach Scott Brooks praised Simmons’s defensive effort post game, declaring he should win the NBA’s Defensive Player of the Year award.
“I’m not sure that he (Simmons) will win it, but he deserves to,” Brooks said.
“He is one of the only players that can guard from one to five on the court.”
Simmons’ 76ers will now play the Atlanta Hawks in the Eastern Conference semi-finals after the Hawks defeated New York in their first-round series.
If successful against the Hawks, Philadelphia will play the winner of the Brooklyn versus Milwaukee series in the Eastern Conference finals.
The 76ers’ first game against Atlanta will be on Monday (AEST), with a tip-off time yet to be determined.
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