The Sixers squandered a golden opportunity after losing to the Atlanta Hawks in Game 7, but who’s to blame for this utter collapse?
Daryl Morey has done a lot of good since he came to Philadelphia. The Al Horford swap for Danny Green was a major addition to the team, while his trade of Josh Richardson for Seth Curry was a robbery not seen since Sam Hinkie held the Sacramento Kings at gun-point.
For all of his wins, Morey did have his share of losses. For one, the Sixers never used their mid-level exception at any point this season. They could have signed another player for up to $6 million; while that won’t land you a star, it could have been used to add more depth than the team.
Then there’s also the failed James Harden trade. While rumors suggest Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta had no interest in dealing with Morey, there was certainly an opportunity to be had.
Finally, Harden aside, Morey had every opportunity to trade for a proven player other than the injured George Hill. Targeting, say, Terrence Ross or making a big push for Lonzo Ball could have helped the Sixers’ depth issues exponentially. By being passive, Morey set the Sixers up to struggle in the postseason.
If we’re going by percentages, Daryl Morey deserves merely 10% of the blame for the Sixers’ postseason struggles. That’s not the case for Head Coach Doc Rivers, who clocks in at about 30% of the blame. Rivers’ incessant use of his “all-bench lineup” clearly cost the Sixers on many occasions.
Rivers struggled mightily against the Hawks, whether when deciding his on-court personnel or when calling offensive plays for his team. He ignored both the numbers and common sense time and time again, which led to multiple blown leads over this series.
Rivers struggled to get the most out of his players (or anything out of Ben Simmons, for that matter). He couldn’t get them to focus, and that led to this team not only delaying this series but losing it.
Rivers would be on the hot-seat had he not signed such a large contract this past off-season. He’s almost guaranteed to be around next year, but he needs to keep one eye open, or he’ll find himself on the outs with yet another team.
As bad as Doc Rivers was in this series, there is one person who deserves to shoulder more blame than even him.
As if it were any surprise. If there was one single reason, Ben Simmons is the reason the Sixers lost this series. His play was beyond abysmal and should lead to a quick exit from the team.
While he performed admirably defensively, Simmons was a disaster offensively, often running away from the ball sooner than towards it. In fact, Simmons took three shots in the fourth quarter of all seven games COMBINED. That is not a typo; that is how badly Simmons did NOT want to shoot the ball.
It’s clear that Simmons’ passiveness has worn on not just the fanbase, not just the coaches, but his teammates as well. Joel Embiid, who has defended Simmons for quite some time (though he has kept him honest), was very blunt after the game.
There is no feasible way that Ben Simmons can return to this team after what he has done, or rather not done, this postseason. Simmons is clearly talented, and a change of scenery could do wonders for him. However, he clearly cost the Sixers a chance at the Finals this year, and that is unforgivable.