Dwight Howard defends Ben Simmons amid criticisms

Dwight Howard is standing up for his teammate who is 11 years his junior.

The Philadelphia 76ers big man Howard spoke on Instagram Live this week defending teammate Ben Simmons. The All-Star Simmons has come under fire during their second-round series against Atlanta, particularly for his inability to make free throws as the Hawks intentionally foul him.

“Everybody talking about Ben. Leave him alone,” said Howard, per John Clark of NBC Sports Philadelphia. “Send him some positivity instead of talking how about bad you think he is. Ain’t none of you played in the NBA. Sit y’all’s butts down.

“I believe in you Ben,” Howard added. “I don’t care how many free throws you miss. I still believe in you. Keep saying what they want about my teammate. You’re my doggone brother. I’ll fight you. I’ll bite your ear off.”

The Sixers currently trail Atlanta 3-2 in the series after blowing a 26-point lead in the second half of Game 5. Simmons’ offensive numbers against the Hawks have indeed been pretty ugly. He is averaging just 11.6 points per game on a horrendous 30.8 percent from the free throw line as Atlanta often turns to “Hack-A-Simmons” late in games.

Howard, himself just a 56.6 percent career free throw shooter, knows all about the criticisms that come with poor foul shooting. Maybe he can offer Simmons his own tip on how to improve from the line as well.