Philadelphia 76ers coach Doc Rivers defended his decision to keep Ben Simmons on the court late in Monday’s game despite the Washington Wizards‘ use of his poor free throw shooting en route to a 122-114 Game 4 victory at Capital One Arena.
The Wizards intentionally fouled Simmons four times in the game, including three times in the final two minutes as they took the lead for good. Simmons came into the game 0 of 9 from the foul line in the series and went 1 of 2 at the line each time Washington purposely hacked him.
“You want me to take Ben Simmons off the floor? He’s pretty good. I’ll pass on that suggestion,” Rivers said. “He could have [made more free throws] but he didn’t. But he still does other things. I’ll take that. Listen, keep the narrative going, we’re just going to keep playing.”
Rivers has defended and advocated for Simmons throughout the season, backing him for Defensive Player of the Year and praising his playmaking. After Simmons scored just six points but had 15 rebounds and 15 assists in the 76ers’ Game 1 victory over the Wizards, Rivers chided fans who were critical of his scoring.
Simmons shot 61% at the line on the season but just 53% after the All-Star break.
“I’m not upset, it’s basketball,” said Simmons, who was 5 of 10 from the line in the game and scored 13 points overall. “I’m not worried about people fouling me.”
Rivers said that Simmons making at least one free throw per trip to the line was statistically acceptable and that he didn’t feel it cost the 76ers the game.
“I didn’t think he was scared of the moment, he just didn’t make them,” Rivers said. “We’re going to keep him on the floor. Unless you guys want us to bench him the whole game, if anybody wants us to do that let me know and I’ll know you don’t know basketball.”