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Nets’ Ben Simmons explains the infamous pass against the Hawks in the 2021 NBA playoffs

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It was one of the most shocking moments in NBA postseason history and the final straw in Ben Simmons’ time as a Philadelphia 76er.

Simmons, now a member of the Brooklyn Netshe fought the entire series against the Atlanta Hawks during the 2021 Eastern Conference semifinals.

Ben Simmons (25) of the Philadelphia 76ers defends Trae Young (11) of the Atlanta Hawks during Game 7 of the second round of the Eastern Conference playoffs on June 20, 2021 at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia.
(David Dow/NBAE via Getty Images)

In the seven-game series, Simmons, the starting point guard, scored just 19 points in the final three games while attempting just three shots total during the fourth quarter of the series.

But it was the Game 7 decision to pass up a wide-open dunk that doomed Simmons.

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With just over 3:30 remaining in the fourth quarter of Game 7 with Atlanta leading 88-86, Simmons spun down the baseline against Danilo Gallinari, finding himself alone under the basket. Rather than lay the ball down or dunk it to tie the game, Simmons inexplicably passed to Matisse Thybulle, who was fouled and ended up making just one of two free throws.

Philadelphia lost Game 7, with Sixers star Joel Embiid referencing the moment after the game as the turning point of the series.

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Simmons sat out the entire 2021-2022 NBA season, had back surgery during the offseason, and is now preparing for Brooklyn’s 2022-2023 training camp.

Ben Simmons of the Brooklyn Nets warms up before a game against the Philadelphia 76ers on March 10, 2022 at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia.

Ben Simmons of the Brooklyn Nets warms up before a game against the Philadelphia 76ers on March 10, 2022 at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia.
(Jesse D Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images)

On Thursday, Simmons joined the former NBA player and Podcast by current ESPN analyst JJ Redick and discussed the pass that effectively ended his time in Philadelphia.

“The 100-point basket,” Simmons joked when asked to explain his decision to pass the “The Old Man and the Three” podcast. “At the time, I just turned around, and I assume that Bring [Young] it will come faster. So, I’m thinking he’s going to come in full-blown, and I see Matisse saying… ‘You know, Matisse is athletic, he can get up.’ So, I’m thinking, ‘OK, hurry through.’ He goes to flush, not knowing how much room there was.

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“It happened so fast, you only get one read. And, in the playoffs, you have to make the right decisions most of the time.”

Ben Simmons attends US Open 2022 at USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on September 6, 2022 in Queens, New York.

Ben Simmons attends US Open 2022 at USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on September 6, 2022 in Queens, New York.
(Images by Jean Catuffe/GC)

Redick, who was Simmons’ teammate during the 2017 and 2018 seasons, notes that it would have been difficult for Simmons to know it was the much smaller Young coming to defend before telling Simmons the play looks bad when slowed down. .

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“Yeah. Damn, it looks terrible,” Simmons agreed. “When I look at it now, I’m like, ‘Man, I should have hit that s—-.’ But it didn’t happen, and I was okay with it.”

Simmons requested a trade from Philadelphia before the start of the 2021-2022 season, finally getting his wish in February as part of a blockbuster deal that sent 10-time All-Star James Harden to the Sixers.

Brooklyn training camp begins on Tuesday, September 27.


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