Just a day after the Milwaukee Bucks blew a 17-point lead and fell to the Brooklyn Nets — mostly because they were helpless in the face of a masterful Kevin Durant performance — the Philadelphia 76ers appeared to see what Milwaukee did and symbolically say, “hold my beer.”
The Sixers blew a 26-point lead as the Atlanta Hawks managed to steal a 109-106 Game 5 victory to take a 3-2 series lead in their second-round playoff series Wednesday night.
The Hawks trailed for all but 1:26 of the game until Trae Young gave the Hawks a 105-104 lead with three free throws for his 35th, 36th, and 37th points on the night.
Young dazzled in the game, finishing with 39 points and seven assists on 10-of-23 shooting and a 17-for-19 mark from the free-throw line.
What a comeback!
— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) June 17, 2021
The Sixers carried a 62-40 lead at halftime mainly on the back of a 17-point first quarter from Joel Embiid that saw him go 8-for-8 from the field.
After that first-quarter explosion, however, Embiid was just 5-of-13 from the field and ended up finishing with 37 points, which, combined with a 36-point night from Seth Curry looked like it was a recipe for a Philadelphia victory.
Well, those no-shows from Harris and Simmons and Young’s brilliance, that is.
Young scored 25 of his 39 in the second half and helped chip into Philadelphia’s big lead until the Hawks’ eventual breakthrough in the fourth quarter spurred by a 13-1 run that saw Young score 11 of those points, including the three free throws he hit to give the Hawks the lead.
“We just kept fighting. This team, I’ve been saying it all playoffs, we just keep fighting,” said Young to TNT immediately after the horn sounded. “No matter what the score is, no matter if we’re down or we’re up, we’re always going to fight and I’m proud of this team and we’re just going to keep on fighting.”
Young’s eruption was the fifth 30-point game he’s recorded in his first-ever post-season and a testament to his tremendous talent. However, as brilliant as he was, he likely wouldn’t have got his opportunity to shine if not for the Sixers’ monumental collapse.
When things started to go south for the Sixers during Wednesday’s game their body language showed how badly they were pressing, particularly with Harris and Simmons struggling. It’s times like these that have haunted Philadelphia for years now during this Embiid-Simmons era of the club where their apparent lack of veteran leadership lets them down.
Philadelphia could’ve remedied this situation during the trade deadline this past season as the Toronto Raptors’ Kyle Lowry was reportedly made available. Had the Sixers been more aggressive with their offers to the Raptors the leadership void and the calming influence the team appears to need probably could’ve been corrected.
Alas, Philadelphia faltered yet again and now find themselves on the brink of elimination against a team they were heavily favoured against coming into the series.
Yet again, the talented 76ers look to be in some serious trouble.