By Dylan MacKinnon
Sixers fans may be feeling a very uneasy sense of Deja Vu right now. For the third Eastern Conference Semi-Finals appearance in a row, the Sixers have dropped a game 5 in a series tied 2-2. As we all know, they lost both those prior series. And now, after dropping Game 5 tonight in Miami, they find themselves here again. They are now 0-3 on the road this series and have dug themselves a hole that is historically tough to dig out of.
It is tough to pinpoint what the biggest issue was for the Sixers tonight. Because there were just too many issues to name They struggled from the tip until the final buzzer sounded. The Sixers never had a chance in this one as ugly shooting, poor defense, awful rebounding, and bad turnovers plagued them all game long.
It is hard to see things going much worse in the first half. They turned it over 9 times and shot under 40% as a team. At one point they did cut it to 8. But then Embiid fell in the middle of a play after taking a shot to the face, the Heat scored and got a Tech. It continued to unravel from there as the Heat grew their lead to 18. Maxey struggled from the floor hitting just 1 of his 5 shots and missing 3 three-pointers. More importantly, Embiid struggled from the field. He shot just 2-6 and pulled down only 2 rebounds. Still, a late push spurred by some defensive plays cut the lead to 12 by half.
That did not carry over into the second half though. Embiid may have started the half by cutting it to 10, but then things continued to spiral. The Heat built their lead to as high as 20pts in the quarter. Even with Embiid finally finding his shooting form and scoring 11 in the quarter, the Sixers could not cut into the lead. They entered the 4th quarter down 81-66.
It never got better. The Heat continued to kill them from deep, and the Sixers had no answer on the other end. The benches were emptied just 4 minutes into the frame with the Sixers finding themselves down by over 30pts. In the end, they lost 120-85. It was an ugly night from start to finish, and one would struggle to find a single good thing to say about this performance. Shake Milton and Paul Reed may be the only players worth mentioning for playing with any urgency.
The loss puts the Sixers in the historically tough position of having to come back from down 3-2. As noted before the game, teams that win game 5 when a series is tied 2-2 win the series 84% of the time. Winning two games in a row in the playoffs is tough in general. Having to win two games or be eliminated is tougher. And needing to win one of those two on the road, when you are now 0-3 on the road this series, is even tougher than that.
Their road to trying to bounce back from this blowout loss starts Thursday night back in Philly. If they win that, they will have to head to Miami Sunday for game 7. The Sixers have not won a series after losing game 5 like this since 2001. In fact the last two times they made the second round, they lost game 5 with the series tied 2-2. Last year they lost game 5 at home to the Hawks and later lost game 7 at home as well. And in 2019 they lost game 5 in Toronto, and then a heartbreaking finish in game 7 sent them packing. History is not on the Sixers’ side to come back in this series.