Shaq on Ben Simmons: ‘If he was in my locker room I would have knocked his a– out’

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Philadelphia 76ers star Ben Simmons was one of the focal points of the criticism the team received after losing Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals Sunday night to the Atlanta Hawks.

Simmons, one of the cornerstones of the 76ers franchise, scored five points in 35 minutes in Philadelphia’s 103-96 loss. Simmons was 2-for-4 from the field and 1-for-2 from the foul line. He scored one point in the fourth quarter – from the foul line – and did not have a field-goal attempt.

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He finished the series averaging 9.9 points, 6.3 rebounds and 8.6 assists per game. It was far from enough to get the job done, and Shaquille O’Neal let him know.

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“I ain’t shoot well from the line this series,” Simmons told reporters after the game, via ESPN. “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.”

He added that he was going to take the offseason to relax and work on any mental obstacles.

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“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.

TNT analyst O’Neal wasn’t accepting any excuses for the 2016 No. 1 overall draft pick.

On Saturday, O’Neal advised Simmons to “man up” and came for him harder Sunday night.

“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? It don’t take seven games to realize that, I don’t wanna hear that man,” the NBA legend said. “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 a– out. I don’t want to hear that, get out of my face with that.”

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It’s another disappointing end for the 76ers. The team, which had been accused of tanking in order to get high draft picks to select Simmons and Joel Embiid, has not been to the NBA Finals since 2001. It hasn’t made it to the Eastern Conference Finals since then as well.