The specter of Ben Simmons appears alive and well in Philadelphia after an extraordinary stat sheet that says it all.
The specter of Ben Simmons still roams the halls of the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia.
The Australian was at the back of everyone’s mind when James Harden suffered a meltdown so eerily similar to the one Simmons suffered in the Easter Conference playoffs 12 months ago.
Now the internet is laughing at the brutal reality the Sixers find themselves in.
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The team went all-in on Harden following Simmons’ request to be traded.
They threw the kitchen sink at the Nets to free Harden, spitting out Simmons, Seth Curry, Andre Drummond and two first-round picks.
For all of this, the team finds itself in the same position as last year – a conference semi-final elimination where the finger of blame was pointed at the team’s key playmaker.
If it weren’t so painful, the stat sheet Harden delivered in Friday’s Game 6 loss to Miami would make Sixers fans laugh or cry.
Harden finished with 11 points to go with Joel Embiid’s limited impact of 20 points, while shooting just 25% from the field.
At least Embiid shot the ball.
Harden, the man the Sixers bet everything on has collapsed.
Harden shot just zero of two in the second half. Simmons hasn’t attempted a fourth-quarter shot in the last four games of the series that saw the Sixers fall to Atlanta 12 months ago.
Harden’s second-half flop was all too familiar.
Harden’s fourth-quarter stat sheet will haunt Sixers fans when compared to Ben Simmons’ performance in the Game 7 elimination of Philadelphia last year.
It did not go unnoticed by NBA commentators on Twitter.
Brooklyn expects Simmons to be back in shape and shooting for the start of preseason training this year after back surgery.
Harden’s return to the Sixers is more uncertain.
He hasn’t activated the last year of his contract with the team yet, but said after the loss he “will be there” next season.
The pressure is also on head coach Doc Rivers, who was forced to answer questions about facing the sack after the game.
“I’m not worried about my job,” he said at the post-match press conference.
“I think I’m doing a terrific job and if you don’t think so, you should write it down.”
They were booed by their own fans – and the reaction on social media was even worse.
Philadelphia sports radio commentator Jon Johnson said all of the team’s miserable years of getting top draft picks was for naught.
Meanwhile, Harden also made some dramatic statements in his post-match interview.
He seemed to suggest that Rivers was the reason for his second-half slump where he took just two shots. He finished with 11 points for the game but failed to score after halftime.
“We directed our attack, the ball just didn’t come back to me,” he said.
When asked if the coach was playing to get the ball back to him, Harden replied: ‘Next question’.
Those are the two words that should make Rivers nervous. If he is in fact, the sexagenarian does not show it.
Rivers has failed to make it past the second leg of the playoffs in his last 10 seasons as an NBA coach.
The 76ers haven’t made it past the second round since 2001.