The Philadelphia 76ers started this game the right way. They came out with the right sense of urgency at home and they jumped out to a 26-point lead. This was the game where they had a chance to go up 3-2 and move to within just a game of the Eastern Conference Finals.
Then, they completely collapsed. The same issues from Game 4 popped up again on Wednesday and it resulted in a devastating 109-106 loss at home to the Atlanta Hawks. The Sixer again just stopped moving the ball and they were now able to recover and come up with a win.
Joel Embiid bounced back and had 37 points and 13 rebounds and they also got 36 out of Seth Curry, but Philadelphia was outscored 69-44 in the second half and they committed 11 turnovers compared to eight assists.
“I thought it started at the beginning of the second half,” said coach Doc Rivers. “Even though we kept the lead, I think we had six turnovers in our first 10 possessions to start the third quarter. That’s what I called the early timeout. You can see we kind of exhaled, relaxed. The first unit was just good enough and Seth carried us in that stretch to keep the least 22 where it could have easily been at 30 if we don’t turn the ball over.”
Instead, they did and they then got sloppy on the defensive end of the floor. They left Atlanta’s shooters open and Trae Young was able to score 25 of his 39 after halftime.
“At the start of the fourth is when they started to gain momentum,” said Tobias Harris. “We didn’t get any movement offensively in what we were doing and then defensively, we were just non-existent out there for their run. That was really the game shifting and into the fourth quarter where we’re trading baskets, and then they ended up making good plays, making 3s down the stretch, and scoring pretty much every single time down. That just hurt us.”
The Sixers were not able to get into a rhythm offensively and it absolutely killed them on offense. Philadelphia only got field goals out of Embiid and Curry as they shot just 37.5% as a team after halftime compared to 60.5% for the Hawks.
“We just slowed it down too much,” said Ben Simmons. “I think we got too comfortable with that lead and slow it down too much. The spacing also, when I run it is hard, so I think we do those things, it’s gonna open up and then give me my lanes to be aggressive.”
In the fourth quarter, alone, Philadelphia shot just 5-for-17 from the floor compared to 16-for-22 for Atlanta and they were outscored 40-19 as the Hawks were able to rally.
Now, they face elimination on a season that was expected to end with a title run.
“Listen, we scored 19 points and gave up 40,” said Rivers. “So, it’s on us. It’s on all of us. It’s on me, it’s on the players, and we have to figure out how to get back up which we will, and bring this game back here for Game 7.”
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