NBA

Dwight Howard defends Ben Simmons after criticism of his playoff performance

PHILADELPHIA, PA - JANUARY 14: Ben Simmons #25 and Dwight Howard #39 of the Philadelphia 76ers react against the Miami Heat in the fourth quarter at the Wells Fargo Center on January 14, 2021 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The 76ers defeated the Heat 125-108. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)

Dwight Howard came to the defense of Ben Simmons on Friday afternoon. The 76ers big spoke on how people should send positivity his way as opposed to constant criticism.

Dwight Howard added to his statement by expressing his belief in Ben Simmons, despite his foul shooting struggles.

The Philadelphia 76ers are in the midst of a best-of-seven series with the Atlanta Hawks. They came into this match-up as the betting favorites. However, blown double-digit leads in games four and five have them on the brink of elimination.

The 76ers head into Friday night’s game as three-point favorites. In what could be their last game of the season, they look to force a seventh game back home in Philly.

Ben Simmons this series

A key point of Philadelphia’s losses in this series is Ben Simmons’ offensive production. While he has a high field goal percentage overall, he hasn’t taken many shots, to begin with. In this series with Atlanta, Simmons is only averaging seven total shots a game. Most notably, he hasn’t taken any shots in the fourth quarter in three of five games this series. On top of all this, the Hawks have exploited, arguably, the all-star’s biggest flaw, free-throw shooting.

Ben Simmons has struggled with shooting the ball throughout his career. Though in these playoffs, he seems to have hit a new low. Against Atlanta, Simmons is shooting below 31 percent from the line. It’s a factor that nullifies his playmaking ability on both ends of the floor, especially late in games.

Many, including ESPN analyst Stephen A. Smith, have said that Simmons’ inability to shoot will prevent the Sixers from winning a championship. Unfortunately, what we’ve seen from Ben in this series gives more credence to that argument. Regardless of whether or not it’s true, what we do know is that the three-time all-star must be better starting tonight. His team staying alive in the postseason depends on it.

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