Everyone was sleuthing on Ben Simmons’ social media accounts to see if he would say anything about another early playoff exit by the Philadelphia 76ers. He didn’t outright comment, but Simmons did “like” an interesting post.
The three-time All-Star liked two social media posts criticizing James Harden – the player who Simmons was traded for – and his disappointing performance in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference semifinals. Harden finished with just 11 points and didn’t attempt a single shot in the second half.
In fact, it could be argued Harden was worse than Simmons over his final two playoff quarters: 0 points to Simmons’ 3 points. Both came in elimination games. Harden’s last made bucket came at the 3:31 mark of the second quarter. Ouch.
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Doc Rivers Wouldn’t Blame Harden for Game 6 Loss
Reporters tried to get Rivers to throw Harden under the bus – similar to what happened last year when he subtly jabbed Simmons – but the savvy coach didn’t take the bait. He layed the blame at Harden only being in a Sixers’ uniform for 21 games.
“Listen I’m not going to make this a referendum on James,” Rivers said. “We could have played better, the ball could have moved more, you know, I don’t know. Did we have enough time to get our stuff in? I don’t know that. I thought we did honestly, I really did but clearly we didn’t.”
Meanwhile, Harden didn’t have an explanation for why he didn’t score more points in Game 6. His excuse was the ball didn’t “get back to me” which drew criticism since he’s the point guard and the ball is always in his hands.
“We ran our offense,” Harden added. “I felt like the ball moved and it just didn’t get back to me.”
Buyer Beware: Simmons, Nets Feeling Each Other Out
The Sixers washed their hands of the diva point guard after trading him to the Brooklyn Nets on February 10. Simmons never suited up for his new team, instead dragging his new team through a long “ramping up” process. The organization quickly shot down rumors that Simmons lied to the organization about his availability, adding that he’s a “big part” of their future plans.
“We’ve had lengthy discussions about how much he can contribute and how much he really means to our roster,” Nets GM Sean Marks said, via SB Nation’s Nets Daily. “There’s a gaping hole and he fits some needs that we’ve talked about in the past.”
It’s going to be a long offseason in Brooklyn and Philadelphia as both franchises decide how to utilize the stars from last year’s biggest trade. The topic of “who won the trade” is already being debated on sports talk shows, Twitter feeds, and in the court of public opinion. Those hot takes will only increase with each edited soundbite and every practice video this summer. Buckle up.