By now you know the Sixers lost to the Hawks in game 4 103-100. It was one of the most frustrating games a Philly sports fan can remember in quite some time. And it wasn’t just because the #1 seeded Sixers lost, but because early on it looked like game 4 would play out just as games 2 & 3 did. The Sixers blew an 18 point lead and ripped a defeat from the jaws of victory.
Unlike game 1, where the Sixers had to overcome a large deficit, the Sixers seemed to lose this game more so than the Hawks won it. Tobias Harris and Ben Simmons combined for just two shots in the 4th quarter (both coming from Harris) and missed both of them. Joel Embiid was NOT Joel Embiid. He said after the game that he felt like he just didnt have it last night. But you cant ignore his trip to the locker room with the trainer. Because when he came back he just never looked the same.
Joel Embiid went 0-12 int the second half. Becoming the first player in the last 25 years to go 0-12 in a half during the post season. But it wasn’t just his failure to hit shots, it was also his inability to get to the line. Normally Joel Embiid has been averaging 10.3 free throw attempts per game during the post season. He took just 4 attempts in the second half on Monday night. His body language was atrocious and he, for the first time….ever(?) became a liability on the offensive side of the ball. Looking at a box score and seeing Joel Embiid 17 points and 21 boards you may think Joel Embiid dominated. But that clearly WASNT the case after he returned from the locker room.
But it wasn’t just Embiid. The entire team didn’t look like they knew how to respond to Joel Embiid’s obvious poor performance. They look conflicted on whether or not they should take the game over themselves or continue to feed Joel the ball and try to get him going. With Embiid struggling the Sixers offense was completely lost and that falls on the shoulder of Doc Rivers. I wanted to see Doc pull Ben Simmons and Tobias Harris to the side and tell them “Take this over!” Yes! Doc Rivers SHOULDNT have to do that. But unfortunately he does. And to hear Ben Simmons say after the game that he “probably should have been more aggressive” is beyond frustrating.
And it wasnt like they didnt have their chances. The Hawks TRIED to give them the game. with 9:47 left in the game the Sixers were up 89-85 and they were able to get a defensive stop that was negated because of a lose ball foul on Dwight Howard. The Hawks cut the lead to 1 with a three pointer. Shake hit an “and 1” and brought the lead to four as the Sixers led 92-88. for the next 4 minutes the Sixers failed to hit a shot. They were getting defensive stops, and just failing to widen the lead. WIth 5;54 left in the game Joel Embiid was called for goal tending and we were knotted up at 92.
This was a team loss. You cant blame this on the refs, who were actually pretty good, this team needs to look in the mirror and realize they choked away a golden opportunity to close this series out at home. Now, because of the choke job, theyll have to return to Atlanta for game 6 on Friday.
Game 5 is Wednesday at home. And they better capitalize on the moment.