Ben Simmons picked a bad time to have the worst game of his young career: 0-for-4, one point in 31 minutes as the 76ers blew a 22-point lead in Boston and lost Game 2 of the Eastern Conference semifinals.
Watching Simmons seemingly not try on offense was bizarre. Was he trying to get others involved? Initially, perhaps. The 76ers grabbed that huge early lead in the first half as J.J. Redick (5-of-9 3-pointers) and Robert Covington (4-of-7 3-pointers) got hot from deep.
Philadelphia needed Simmons. And in the biggest game of the season, Simmons put up a donut for the first time. His four shot attempts tied a career-low.
I can’t recall a bigger star in a massive postseason spot laying a complete egg in defeat. Kobe’s 6-for-24 in Game 7 against the Celtics (bailed out by Ron Artest) comes to mind; Stephen Curry shot 6-for-19 in a Game 7 loss to the Cavs (but he wasn’t 100 percent healthy; no excuses, play like a champion); but I’ve got to go all the way back to LeBron’s no-show in Game 4 of the 2011 Finals against Dallas. Up 2-1, LeBron got nervous and shot 3-for-11 for a season-low 8 points in a series-changing loss. It was the first time in 433 games he was held to single digits. LeBron only took one shot in the 4th quarter in what I call his Bermuda Triangle game.
Simmons brushed off the Boston defense in Game 2, but he was mostly held in check in four regular season games against the Celtics: 47 percent shooting and a modest 12.5 ppg, 6.5 rpg and 4.8 apg. Simmons did have 18-7-6 in Game 1.
The Celtics can throw several bodies at Simmons: feisty Marcus Morris, lengthy Jayson Tatum, and burly Semi Ojeleye.
The guess here is that the Simmons 0-fer in Game 2 will translate to a resounding triple double in Game 3. The Celtics didn’t play particularly well on the road in the first round, losing in Milwaukee by 24, 2 and 11.
Simmons can’t play worse.