Joel Embiid brings up Ben Simmons not dunking as turning point in Game 7

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Ben Simmons took zero shots in the fourth quarter of the 76ers’ Game 7 loss to the Hawks last night.

Not even when he had a fairly clear path to a dunk.

With Philadelphia down two and 3:33 left in the fourth quarter, Simmons backed down Danilo Gallinari near the basket. As Simmons spun toward the hoop, Gallinari reached for the ball and got behind Simmons. Simmons kept his dribble and faced the rim with only 6-foot-1 Trae Young scrambling late to help.

The 6-foot-11, 240-pound Simmons passed to Matisse Thybulle, who got fouled and split his free throws.

After the game, 76ers star Joel Embiid brought up the play.

Amy Fadool Kane  of NBC Sports Philadelphia:

Embiid:

I’ll be honest. I thought the turning point was when we – I don’t know how to say it. But I thought the turning point was just, we had an open shot and we made one free throw and we missed the other and then they came down and scored and we didn’t get a good possession on the other end and Trae came back and he made a 3 and then, from there down four. And then I got – it’s on me. I turned the ball over, tried to make something happen from the perimeter. But I thought that was the turning point.

Embiid took responsibility for his late turnover (letting Gallinari poke the ball away then dunk on the ensuing fastbreak). But everyone is focusing on the Simmons part of that quote.

Mostly for good reason.

This fits a pattern of Embiid calling out Simmons’ scoring limitations. Simmons catches a lot of flack for his unwillingness to shoot 3-pointers. But he’s a reluctant scorer from every level. It really limits the 76ers’ offense, because Simmons both leaves points on the table and doesn’t space the floor for his teammates.

Simmons is a good player. He and Embiid have generally played well together. Winning a playoff series then three more postseason games isn’t nothing.

But Embiid and Simmons are far from an optimal fit. Embiid could seemingly play much better with a point guard who adds more spacing. Simmons’ shortcomings become more pronounced in the playoffs, and Embiid looks ready to advance deeper.

Of course, this isn’t the ideal time to trade Simmons. His value sunk in these playoffs, especially with his five-point Game 7.

It’s a tough time for Philadelphia.