‘Would have knocked his ass out’

Shaq did not mince his words about Ben Simmons.

Simmons has heard plenty of commentary after his epically poor Game 7 performance on Sunday — the Philadelphia 76ers star scored only five points and shot the ball just four times as the Sixers were eliminated from the postseason by the Atlanta Hawks.

Simmons accepted his share of the blame, especially when it came to his series-long shooting struggles and having failed to record a shot in the fourth quarter in each of Games 4-7.

Shaq, a Basketball Hall of Famer and TNT “Inside the NBA” analyst, didn’t want to hear it from Simmons.

“If I played Game 1 and 2 and I know I’m not helping my teammates, what do you think I’m going to do in Game 3?” Shaq said. “It don’t take seven games to realize that, I don’t wanna hear that, man. It don’t take seven games for you to know that you’re not playing right, get right. He didn’t get double-teamed, just be aggressive, that’s all I want. I don’t want to hear all that, stop that.

“If he was in my locker room I would have knocked his ass out. I don’t want to hear that, get out of my face with that.”

Many fans had high hopes for Simmons since being the No. 1 pick in the 2016 NBA Draft. Scouts and execs viewed the Australia native as a top-flight talent. Normally, those types of players don’t shoot 34.2% from the free-throw line in the playoffs or score only one point in the fourth quarter of a Game 7.

Ben Simmons' Game 7 performance drew heavy criticism from Shaquille O'Neal.
Ben Simmons’ Game 7 performance drew heavy criticism from Shaquille O’Neal.
Getty Images; Screengrab

Simmons was overly passive in the Hawks series. In crunch time of the 76ers’ 103-96 loss, Simmons had an easy layup but decided to dump it off to a cutting Matisse Thybulle. Instead of an easy two, Thybulle got fouled and went to the free throw line, and only converted one of the free throws.

“I ain’t shoot well from the line this series,” Simmons told reporters after the game. “Offensively, I wasn’t there. I didn’t do enough for my teammates. There’s a lot of things that I need to work on.”

Simmons’ offensive struggles went straight to his head. But now that the 76ers are out of the playoffs, he can regroup for next season.

“The first thing I’m going to do is clear my mind and get my mental right. You got to be mentally tough. You can’t take games for granted. Especially in the playoffs. Every game matters. Every possession matters,” he said.

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