As difficult as it is to fuck off an 18-point lead, it’s even more difficult to fuck off a 26-point lead.
Yet somehow, because where there’s a will—or a Joel Embiid—there’s a way, the Philadelphia 76ers are on the brink of playoff elimination after shitting the bed in consecutive games.
This ain’t what Jesus died for.
During Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals, we bore witness to Embiid scorching the Atlanta Hawks early on, only to evaporate like a white woman’s upper lip with a putrid 0-12 shooting performance in the second half. The Hawks would prevail 103-100 and tie the series 2-2 as the basketball gods looked on in disgust.
But Game 5 upped the ante on catastrophic meltdowns; it was the Thriller of basketball calamity. For an overwhelming majority of the game, the Hawks kicked and clawed to no avail as they tried their damndest to erase a 20-point plus deficit that seemed insurmountable. Hell, with two minutes left in the third quarter, their ass whooping was so severe that the Hawks had a 0.3 percent chance to even win. 0.3 percent!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
The Entire Milky Way Galaxy: “Oh, damn. Philly is cookin’! There’s no way in hell they can fuck this up!”
The 76ers offense: *Birdman hand rub*
In order to accomplish such a spectacular display of ineptitude would require Doc Rivers and them to squander a 25-point lead with a little over a quarter left of basketball. And lo and behold, that’s exactly what they did. Lemon Pepper Lou ran up the box score with 13 points in just over four minutes of play in the fourth quarter, and Trae Young finished with 39 to propel the Hawks to an unfathomable 103-100 Game 5 victory.
- It was the biggest playoff comeback in Hawks franchise history.
- It was the fourth-biggest playoff comeback in NBA history.
- NBA teams had been 476-3 when leading by 18 points or more heading into the fourth quarter of a playoff game.
- Philly became the only team to lose back-to-back 18-point leads in playoff games in the past 25 seasons.
- The 22-point halftime deficit the Hawks overcame was the third-largest halftime rally in NBA postseason history.
- The 76ers were 165-0 in the past 25 seasons when leading by at least 25 points at any point in the game (regular season or playoffs).
At the center of this mess is y’all boy Ben Simmons, who shot 2-4 from the floor and 4-14 from the line.
And please miss me with all the praise for his defensive versatility and playmaking ability when he’s about as useful as Silkk the Shocker when it’s time to put some points on the board. Hell, he probably still wears a diaper, because potty training this dude had to be an absolute bitch.
Embiid has plenty to answer for, too. Yes, he’s playing on a partially torn meniscus, but after collecting 25 points and 10 boards by halftime to give the 76ers a healthy 62-40 lead, he failed to tap into that superstar gear yet again during a lackluster second-half effort. And once the Hawks smelled blood in the water, they did what they’ve been doing the entire series: feast.
“There’s no quit,” Atlanta coach Nate McMillan said after the game. “We always talk about playing a 48-minute game. It’s a long game. And it took all 48 minutes tonight to get it done.”
At this rate, it’ll take much less time to close the series out unless Philly hits up the Wizard of Oz with a lengthy shopping list.
Game 6 of their Eastern Conference Semifinals matchup goes down Friday and barring a miracle, I think we all know how this story ends.