Observations From Sixers’ Heartbreaking Game 5 Loss vs. Hawks
The Sixers found themselves back on their home floor Wednesday night, looking to regain control of their series with the Atlanta Hawks. After allowing the Hawks to storm a comeback in game 4, this matchup was all tied up at two.
Early on, it looked like the Sixers had learned the error of their ways. They took a commanding lead early in the game and kept Atlanta at arm's reach for most of the night. Then, for the second straight game, things spiraled out of control.
Fast forward to the final minutes, and yet again, the Hawks are within striking distance. Not only did they come back after being as much as 26, but they stole another game to take a 3-2 lead in the series.
Here are some observations from the gut-wrenching loss.
Embiid and Curry carry the Sixers' offense
Multiple Sixers struggled in game 5, but Joel Embiid and Seth Curry were not one of them. If they had not come alive the way they did, it is unthinkable how ugly this game would have gotten. When all was said and done, this duo accounted for 73 of the team's 106 points.
Embiid's shortcomings were on full display in game 4, and he came out on Wednesday looking to rectify his poor performance. After opening the game with eight straight makes, many buckled in for another dominant showing from the MVP runner-up.
Despite the injury concerns that grow more by the day, Embiid continues to dazzle in the postseason. He finished game 5 with a monster stat line of 37 points, 13 rebounds, five assists, two steals, and four blocks.
Curry is another Sixer who continues to shine in the postseason. When Embiid needed help carrying the scoring load in game 5, Curry took it upon himself to provide a lift. The veteran sharpshooter ended the night with 36 points on almost 70% shooting from the floor.
The aggressiveness and confidence Curry has shown in this postseason run has been incredible. He continues to launch a barrage of shots from beyond the arc and is hitting them at an extremely efficient clip. Curry's perimeter creation and shot-making is an element the Sixers have severely needed in recent seasons.
The supporting cast falls flat
Even with Curry and Embiid almost scoring 40 points each, the rest of the team could not provide the finishing touches to seal off a victory. This abysmal performance from the supporting cast is one of the many factors that allowed the Hawks to erase the deficit.
Tobias Harris has been incredible for the Sixers all season but has struggled mightily in the team's last six quarters. He finished game 5 with just four points on 2-11 shooting. Ben Simmons did not provide much more, scoring eight points on four field-goal attempts.
To put it simply, everyone around Embiid and Curry was almost non-existent. They struggled to generate good offensive sets, and it led to minimal scoring numbers.
The Sixers scored 44 points in the second half of game 5, with Embiid and Curry accounting for 38 of those points. They were the only two Sixers to record a made field goal in the final two quarters. A team cannot expect to win a playoff game with only two guys making shots in the last 24 minutes.
Hack-a-Ben rears its ugly head
Ben Simmons' free-throw shooting has been one the biggest topics of conversation throughout the Sixers' postseason run. After showing glimpses of improvement at the line in the regular season, he has struggled greatly in the playoffs.
We saw the Wizards resort to hack-a-Ben tactics in round one as a last resort, but Simmons managed to hold his own for the most part. The Hawks have also resorted to this method and achieved much greater success.
The Sixers left 15 points at the charity stripe on Wednesday night. Ten of those misses came from Simmons. Atlanta sent him to the line 14 times, and he was only able to convert four attempts.
These missed proved to be costly late as it opened the door for the Hawks to strike. They capitalized on these empty possession and were able to shift the tides of the game.
Doc Rivers has been tasked with the tough job of handling this situation. While the Sixers need Simmons on the floor for his playmaking and defense, teams continue to attack this weak area to his game.
The Sixers now find themselves facing the brink of elimination. They have one day to prepare before taking the court Friday in Atlanta as they look to force a game seven.