The Philadelphia 76ers were in complete control in Game 5 of their Eastern Conference second-round series against the Hawks on Wednesday night. Philly was up by as many as 26 points in the third quarter and entered the fourth quarter leading by 18 points.
However, things went south for Philadelphia in the fourth. The Hawks outscored the 76ers 40-19 in the final quarter, and ultimately, the comeback was complete as Atlanta defeated the 76ers 109-106 at Wells Fargo Center to take a 3-2 series lead.
According to ESPN Stats & Info, the 26-point blown lead was the third-largest blown lead in a playoff game over the last 25 postseasons.
Game 6 is on Friday night in Atlanta, and if the Hawks could pull it off, they will return to the Eastern Conference finals for the first time since 2015.
Trae Young had another huge game on the road. In six road playoff games, Young is averaging 32.2 points, 9.0 assists, and 3.0 rebounds. Young had 39 points and seven assists on Wednesday night, including 13 points in the fourth, and Lou Williams scored 13 of his 15 points in the final quarter.
What an amazing turnaround for the Hawks, and what a big-time letdown for the 76ers. In the past two games, Philadelphia, who had an 18-point lead against the Hawks in Game 4, has not gotten much from their top three players in the fourth quarter. Joel Embiid(1-10), Tobias Harris(0-5), and Ben Simmons(0-0) shot a combined 1/15 from the field in the fourth quarters of the last two games.
With their backs against the wall, Philadelphia will now have to win in a hostile environment to keep its season alive. State Farm Arena will be rocking on Friday night, but according to their head coach Doc Rivers, the 76ers will win Game 6 and bring the series back to Philly for Game 7 on Sunday night.
“We’ll get back up,” Rivers said postgame. “We’ll be back here for Game 7. I believe that.”
Philadelphia is still the better team in this series. Usually, the better team wins in a best-of-seven-series in the NBA, so expect the 76ers to bring this series back to Philadelphia and win it in 7. If they don’t, it will be a long offseason in Philadelphia
Simmons has struggled from the free-throw line in the playoffs and this series. The Hawks used the “Hack-a-Ben” strategy in Game 5, and it worked. Simmons shot 4-14 from the line on Wednesday night and became the first guard in NBA history to miss ten free throws in a playoff game, and the ten missed free throws are the most by any player in a game this season.
In the playoffs this season, Simmons is shooting 33% from the foul line.
-Seth Curry had a career-playoff-high 36 points on Wednesday night. Curry shot 13/19 from the field, including 7/12 from three-point range.