By Michael Grimm

Just about every talking head on sports TV has piled on the Sixers Ben Simmons for his woeful play against the Hawks in the Eastern semi series.

Shaq and Chuck.

Stephen A.

Now comes former NBA great and Hall of Famer Reggie Miller:

“Philly fans have long memories,” Miller said Thursday afternoon on a conference call, according to the New York Post. “And if you bring him back and he goes through a stretch of two, three, four games, Philly fans are gonna let you know. That’s just how they are. Mentally, that’s the hardest thing to prepare an athlete for.”

According to StatMuse, the 24-year-old made history in the playoffs for his woes on offense, shooting an all-time worst 34.2 percent from the free throw line this postseason. In the seven-game series against Atlanta, Simmons attempted just three shots in the fourth quarter, none of which occurred in the series’ final four games.

Miller believes one particular moment to be indelible in the minds of Sixers fans.

“They’re always gonna remember him being underneath the basket, having a chance to dunk, and he gives the ball up,” Miller said in reference to a pivotal play that helped turn the tide in Atlanta’s favor in Game 7. “And if he does anything like that next year, if they don’t get rid of him, he’s gonna be hearing the boos.”

For some reason – probably because his foul shooting woes in these playoffs have been firmly implanted in his brain – Simmons instead flicked a pass to Matisse Thybulle, who was fouled and made 1-of-2 from the line. From that point on, the 76ers never had a shot in the air the rest of the game that would have either tied or taken the lead.

Many have pinned the top-seeded 76ers’ premature playoff exit on Simmons’ disappearing act, accusations that don’t sit right with former NBA player and TNT analyst Kenny Smith.

“You could blame the series on Ben Simmons, but that’s not accurate,” Smith said. “There’s always somebody that everyone wants to blame things on. … Every player has tough series. That’s not unusual. You also have to look at not only what he didn’t do, but how can you put him in a position to be more productive? Why wasn’t he productive?”

“If you do move him, there’s gonna be some teams that want him because he can defend, he can create tempo and when he’s confident he does shoot the mid-range shot and the floater,” Smith said. “Does he have work to do? Hell yeah. But there’s a lot of teams that could use him.”

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