The fewer games you play in the postseason, the better off you will be. As the playoffs continue for the Philadelphia 76ers, they might regret what transpired on Monday night in Game 4 of their Eastern Conference semifinals series against the Atlanta Hawks.
Philadelphia led by as many as 18 points against the Hawks in the first half, but Joel Embiid would struggle in the second half, and Atlanta would rally and win Game 4 at home 103-100 to even this best-of-seven series at 2.
Game 5 is Wednesday night in Philadelphia.
Embiid, who was 0-12 from the field in the second half, was 4-20 from the field and finished with 17 points and 21 rebounds. However, he was clearly limited by the right meniscus tear he suffered in the first round against Washington. At one point in Game 4, Embiid had to go back to the locker room to deal with the knee.
“I thought in the beginning of the game when I went back to the locker room, I just felt like I didn’t have it tonight,” Embiid said.
As bad as he played in this game, Embiid, who was averaging 30.8 points and 13.o rebounds per game in the first four games of this series, had an opportunity to give the 76ers a lead late in the game but missed a layup with 16.6 seconds left. According to Embiid, he did have enough lift to finish.
“Great look. Great look. I just didn’t have the lift,” Embiid said. “Thought I got fouled too. But usually, I would go up, especially for a bucket like that, try to dunk it.”
Philly is the better team in this series, which makes this loss even harder to stomach for them. Who knows how many games Embiid’s knee has left in the playoffs?
The 76ers will still win this series, probably in six, but winning in five games would have been better because Embiid could use the rest.
The 76ers have championship aspirations, and when you are going for a championship, you don’t want to play extra games. So now, unfortunately for Philadelphia, they have to play at least one additional game in this series, and if they are not careful, it could be two.