By Dylan MacKinnon
The return of Joel Embiid has completely turned this series around, as one would expect. They have clawed their way back from down 0-2. And now, they head back to Miami tied up at 2-2, for a pivotal game 5. History shows whoever wins this game will go on to win the series. The winner of game 5 has won the series 84.1% of the time in series tied up at 2-2.
Game 5 being weighted that highly does make sense. If you lose it to go down 2-3, it means you now have zero margin for error. You need to win both a road game and a home game consecutively. Meanwhile, the winner only has to win 1 of 2, with one of those games coming at home. For reference, the Sixers are 4-1 at home so far in the playoffs and 2-0 at home in this series. However, they are 2-3 on the road in the playoffs, but with two of those road losses coming in this series while Embiid was out.
To make it a more Sixers-specific stat, they are 5-0 in series when they go up 3-2 after game 5, and 1-12 when they go down 2-3. We last saw them face a game 5 while tied up at 2-2 last year. In the second round, they went into game 5 vs the Hawks tied up at 2-2. They lost that game 109-106. They blew a 26pt lead in that loss. The Sixers would go on to win game 6 of that series, but couldn’t string two wins together and lost game 7 at home.
They were in a similar position in 2019 for the Conference Semi-Finals vs the Raptors. They entered Game 5 tied 2-2 and lost. Then they turned around and won a game 6 in Philly. But they could not close it out and lost game 7 in Toronto on a shot no Sixers fan will soon forget. You would have to go back to the run to the Finals in 2001 to find an example of them being tied 2-2 and winning a series. They beat both the Raptors and the Bucks after winning game 5 that year.
Kyle Lowry will be out for the Heat tonight. He tried to play through the hamstring injury these past two games, but could be seen struggling with the injury, and was not especially productive in either game. Gabe Vincent will likely start in his place as he did in games 1 and 2. Vincent has scored just 19pts across 82 minutes in this series.
The Pivotal game 5 tips tonight at 7:30 pm. Our coverage begins at 6 pm, with an extended Pre-Game show hosted by Devon Givens. And then it is Tom McGinnis on the call.