The Nightmare in South Philly: 76ers Collapse in Historic Fashion, Lose 109-106 to the Hawks
The Sixers just blew a 26-point lead to drop a crucial game five in the second round of the NBA playoffs. The 109-106 loss was one of historical proportions. They are the only team in the last 25 seasons to blow 18-point leads in back-to-back playoff games. Their win probability was 95.5% in game four. It was 99.7% in game five. They were outscored 40-19 in the fourth quarter and were outscored by 25 points in the second half (69-44). The Sixers were 5-for-17 from the field in the fourth quarter. They were 0-for-4 from three point range and 9-for-14 from the foul line. They were out rebounded 12-6.
The last two games are almost beyond comprehension. I don’t even know where to begin when trying to type words about what I just witnessed. It’s hard to feel much of anything about this basketball team, so I’m just going to close my eyes and start typing.
Ben Simmons and Tobias Harris
Ben Simmons didn’t attempt a shot in the fourth quarter. It was the third time this series he failed to do so. Simmons, who acknowledged after the game four collapse that he needed to remain aggressive in the second half of that game, only took four total shots in game five.
To make things worse for Simmons, he went 4-for-14 from the foul line and said after the game that it’s a mental issue. In the second half, Ben Simmons was 0-for-1 and 2-for-6 from the foul line.
Tobias Harris was 2-for-11 and scored four points. He was 0-for-3 from three point range. Harris was 0-for-4 in the second half.
Joel Embiid and Seth Curry
Embiid was back to his old self to start the game. The Hawks had zero answers for him, as the big fella started the game 8-for-8 from the floor. Joel Embiid finished with 37 points and 13 rebounds. Seth Curry scored 36 points. They became the first Sixers teammates to score 35+ points in a playoff game in 31 years. Unfortunately for Embiid and Curry, no Sixers player outside of Joel Embiid and Seth Curry had a field goal the entire second half.
The Sixers bench was outscored 30-2 in the second half while the Hawks bench shot 13-for-17 in the second half. The bench only managed two points thanks to a pair of foul shots made by Shake Milton. Doc Rivers holds a large share of blame with the bench. His rotations simply haven’t worked. When you are running a bench unit with a struggling Tobias Harris, there’s little-to-no offense being generated.
Numb to the Pain
Like most of you reading, I have watched every single Philadelphia 76ers game this season. As I mentioned earlier, after tonight’s game, I feel absolutely nothing. Maybe it’s because I’m in shock at what happened over the last two games or maybe because this team, over the good part of the last decade, has caused me so much pain that I’m just numb at this point.
The Hawks Actually Stink
The Hawks are not a good basketball team. They have essentially played one good half of basketball through five games of this series. Even tonight, during the “epic comeback”, the Hawks shot 34.6% from three point range and no starter finished with a positive +/-. While this series should have been wrapped up tonight, the Sixers have literally handed two games to the Hawks.
I can’t get over how Ben Simmons only attempted four field goals. That is honestly embarrassing and extremely disappointing. How Doc Rivers could allow this team to collapse for the second straight game is also beyond comprehension. The entire thing doesn’t feel real.
The Possibility of a Franchise Altering Series
We are on the brink of ending The Process and officially calling it a failure. The one seed in the East is facing elimination. Friday night they will take the court in Atlanta with the season and most likely, the entire makeup of the franchise on the line. Losing to an inferior Hawks team in the second round of the playoffs, with performances like the ones Tobias Harris and Ben Simmons have given over the last two games, can only result in blowing this team up over the summer.
Will the Sixers still win the series in 7 Games?
This is an extremely hard question to answer when your entire mind is mush trying to comprehend what happened in Game 5. The fact remains that the Sixers are a better team than the Atlanta Hawks. The Sixers have beaten themselves two games in a row. It’s hard to believe that they will be unable to force a game seven.
It will be interesting to see how the Sixers bounce back on Friday night. The entire fanbase is ready to trade Ben Simmons and Tobias Harris and start a rebuild around Joel Embiid. There are even fans out there saying that Brett Brown is a better coach than Doc Rivers. At the end of the night, the Sixers are still alive.
Call me crazy, but I still like the Sixers to win this series in 7 games and use this entire series as a wake up call heading into the Eastern Conference. The road to the finals is never easy. The 76ers sure are making this interesting.
In 2019 the Sixers had a chance to take a 3-2 lead against the Toronto Raptors. They did not. As we all know, they won Game 6 to force a Game 7 in Toronto. Game 7 came down to a miracle shot that obviously did not bounce in the Sixers’ favor. Maybe this year, we get to Game 7 and a ball bounces our way.
I’m not a Doomsday type of guy. I’ll be watching on Friday just like I did tonight. When you let up 52 points in 15 minutes and lose a basketball game by 3 points, it’s the whole team. So blame whoever you want but everyone should be held accountable.
Give me the Sixers in 7.