PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA - APRIL 25: Joel Embiid #21 of the Philadelphia 76ers reaches for the ball past OG Anunoby #3 of the Toronto Raptors in the fourth quarter during Game Five of the Eastern Conference First Round at Wells Fargo Center on April 25, 2022 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Dylan MacKinnon

The Sixers are trying to avoid joining an exclusive club tonight when they take the court in Game 6. After starting the series 3-0, they are now just 3-2. Only three NBA teams have let a series go to 7 games after winning the first 3 games in a series. They are just the 14th team to let a series reach its 6th game after winning the first 3 games. No team has ever lost a series after going up 3-0.

It is amazing the difference a week makes. Just a week ago fans felt better about this team than they have in a long time. The day after Joel Embiid hit that 3pter to win game 3 was a celebration. But then the reports of Embiid’s injury came out. And then they lost game 4. But even then people still generally felt okay. Game 5 was what set everyone into panic mode. And now the Sixers are the team feeling the pressure because they are on the precipice of making history in a way no one has ever wanted to.

What went so wrong they are on the edge of joining this exclusive club? Where to begin. Embiid’s injury is clearly impacting him. He started game 5 strong, scoring 10 pts on 3-4 shooting in the first quarter. But he only scored 10 pts in the next 3 quarters. He seemed disengaged on the defensive end as well at times. Harden still can’t shoot, but he shot poorly in the first 3 games and they still won. But now the rest of the team is struggling from deep too. They shot over 40% in each of their wins, but only 27% in the loss Monday night. And it isn’t just from 3 that they are missing. They shot 31-81 in game 5. As smooth as the offense looked in games 1-3, it looks just as bad in the past two games.

Embiid addressed what he felt was going wrong after the game.

“But we all need to be better offensively. We missed a bunch of wide-open shots. At times, I just felt like we just invited, when I was getting doubled, we were not aggressive attacking the ball. We just kept moving the ball around the perimeter, and that gave them time to recover, and that’s why we’re not able to get anything out of it. So if that’s what they want to keep doing, we’ve got to take advantage of it.”

His assessment seems fair. They had a really hard time getting interior passes. There were way too many times they settled for an unopen 3 with a dwindling shot clock. They took 37 3s total in Game 5. If they are going to turn this around they need to not only get better 3s but get into the paint more. Too often everyone was just standing around while whoever had the ball was smothered on defense.

The good news is that loss may have been a wake-up call. Being embarrassed on national TV the other night has reportedly woken them up a bit. Keith Pompey said on The Anthony Gargano Show that the team has felt motivated the past couple of days.

Tonight’s game tips at around 7 pm. Our coverage will begin at 6:50 with The Pregame Show hosted by Devon Givens. And then it is Tom McGinnis on the call. Join us tonight to see if the Sixers can finish this series off, and avoid joining an exclusive club no one wants to be a member of.