Doc Rivers Not Considering Sitting Ben Simmons Late in Games
Sixers star center Joel Embiid left the game with 36.5 seconds remaining in the first quarter on Monday's Game 4 and never returned with what has been called right knee soreness. He is expected to get an MRI on Tuesday.
"Obviously we need Embiid to win," admitted Ben Simmons He's a big part of this team. If he is not there next game, we need to close it out."
That become the turning point of what has been a much discussed loss for the Sixers, shrinking their series lead to 3-1 in their best of seven with the Washington Wizards.
"Obviously Joel (going out) was number one, being in foul trouble," Sixers head coach Doc Rivers explained. Those are the two things that hurt, Danny in foul trouble, Ben in foul trouble, Joel out-of-the-game."
Before the game Wizards coach Scott Brooks admitted that he planned on using the hack-a-Ben strategy in the game if the situation called for it. With 2:47 remaining with the Wizards willingly put Simmons at free throw line. Simmons shot 61.3% from the charity stripe this season, but entered Game 4 missing all nine of his attempts from the line.
The Sixers had tied the game at 108-108 when the Wizards put this strategy to work. In the final two-minutes of the game, Simmons connected just on 50% of his free throws (3-6), going from a tie game to down two points.
"It's basketball," Simmons stated. "I’m not afraid of that strategy. I just got to get up there and knock them down."
Many fans have shouted from the roof tops to get Simmons off-the-floor during those key late game situations due to his poor foul shooting, but its not something Rivers has even considered.
"You want me to take Ben Simmons off the floor?" questioned Rivers to a reporter after the game. "He's pretty good, so i'll pass on that suggestion."
Rivers continued when asked if it was fair of fans who want more scoring from Simmons, when Embiid is not in the game.
"You guys keep this Ben Simmons narrative going. Which is freakin insane," a perplex Rivers said. "Ben is not a 40 point guy. I just don’t understand why this is not sinking in in this city. If I’m Ben, I’d get tired of it. Celebrate him and all the things he does well”
The series swings back to Philadelphia for Wednesday's Game 5, with or without Embiid in the lineup, as the Sixers will try to advance to the semi-final round of the playoffs.
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