Philadelphia 76ers guard Ben Simmons told reporters his free-throw struggles were more mental than physical following the team's shocking 109-106 loss to the Atlanta Hawks during Game 5 of the Eastern Conference semifinals on Wednesday, a game that saw the team blow a 26-point lead.
Dave McMenamin @mcten
Ben Simmons, who was 4-for-14 on FTs in Gm5, is now 22-for-67 on FTs this postseason. "Definitely, I think, mental," he said. When asked about being subbed out in the 4th: "Obviously I got to knock down free throws and step up and do that, but it is what it is. Coach's decision"
On Thursday, head coach Doc Rivers agreed:
The issue isn't just from the free-throw stripe, though. Simmons seems to become far less aggressive when those struggles emerge. He attempted just four field goals in Game 1, and just one in the second half while the Sixers had their meltdown.
Three times this preseason he's attempted five or fewer shots, as both the Hawks and Washington Wizards have resorted to purposefully fouling him to shoot free throws. When the free throws aren't falling, Simmons seems less apt to attack and put himself in a position where he might get fouled.
And that's one reason why the top-seeded Sixers are one loss away from vacation.