Philadelphia 76ers forward Ben Simmons called his team “too soft” for the second time this season after Friday night’s 123-121 home loss to the Atlanta Hawks.
The Sixers were without big man Joel Embiid.
“Definitely,” Simmons said when asked whether physicality was the Sixers’ biggest problem.
"I think we were just too soft," Ben Simmons said after the #sixers 123-121 loss to the Hawks. "I think defensively we're not taking it personal enough. You know, when guys score on us it should be a pride thing."
— Derek Bodner (@DerekBodnerNBA) January 12, 2019
Butler would not go as far as Simmons did Friday night and took issue with his teammate’s choice of words.
“I don’t like the word ‘soft,'” Butler said, and added a whistle. “I just don’t think that we did what we were supposed to do. I’m not gonna say that anybody’s soft. I just think that we got beat in every aspect of the game. They came out from the jump and did what they wanted to do, and they did that for 48 straight minutes.”
“I hope we’re still together,” Butler said. “Nobody pointing fingers at anybody.”
"I don't like the word soft."
Jimmy Butler responds to Ben Simmons calling 76ers “too soft” after loss to Hawks
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) January 12, 2019
Simmons, who had 23 points, 15 assists and 10 rebounds, wasn’t naming names, but said he wanted to see more physicality from the entire team.
“I just don’t think we’re physical enough. I think defensively, we’re not taking it personal enough when guys score on us. It should be a pride thing when somebody scores; you should be frustrated every time,” he said.
“I think that comes with age — we have a lot of young guys — but at the same time, I think we have to expect more from each other to get better and get to that next level. ‘Cause I know once playoff time comes, it’s another level.”
Asked whether he had spoken with his teammates about the issue, Simmons said:
“We know. We know we gotta be more physical.
“We have to take it as a challenge. You don’t wanna come out on the floor and have guys go at you every game. You wanna make that a pride thing. You wanna come out and get stops and lock down your man. And that’s everybody, including me.”
The November trade of Butler to join fellow stars Simmons and Embiid hasn’t gone as smoothly as the Sixers had hoped.
Butler seems to cause friction wherever he plays.