The Philadelphia 76ers did the unthinkable and set a new standard for playoff collapses. The online betting favorites followed up their Game 4 choke job with an even bigger one as they blew a 26-point lead and lost to the Atlanta Hawks 109-106 on Wednesday night.
The Sixers led throughout the game until the final minutes of the fourth quarter, a period where they allowed Atlanta to score 40 points while they only managed 19. Despite their consecutive meltdowns, the Sixers return as -145 favorites per the NBA odds. But the home team Hawks (+125) could finish them off Friday night.
76ers: What Now?
Doc Rivers, Ben Simmons and the entire Philadelphia 76ers team made everyone forget about the Milwaukee Bucks’ collapse thanks to what could only be described as a historic meltdown. I’m at a loss for words on what more to say about it.
But looking at the box score, it was a tale of two halves for Philadelphia. They shot 53.5 percent from the field in the first but only 37.5 percent in the second. Everyone except for Joel Embiid and Seth Curry went scoreless in the second half, shooting 0 of 11. Simmons took just one field goal attempt.
The only team to blow an 18-point lead in back-to-back playoff games in the last 25 seasons:
The Philadelphia 76ers 😓
— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) June 17, 2021
Simmons, the ever-controversial Sixers point guard, was abysmal again as he went 4 of 14 from the charity stripe. Philadelphia was dominating Atlanta in the first half thenbut seemingly forgot to play, on both ends of the floor, in the second half. It’s not over yet. But this disappointing team cannot be relied on, especially as chalk.
Hawks: Next Big Thing
Lost in the epic Sixers’ collapse is the heart and grit the Atlanta Hawks team have continued to show. This was a team that was out of the playoffs with a 14-20 record until Nate McMillan took over. Now, the Hawks are just one win away from advancing to the conference finals for the first time since 2015.
McMillan has his team playing hard for a full 48 minutes, something that can’t be said for the Sixers. Atlanta has managed to fight back not just because of Trae Young, who was magnificent with his 25 points and six assists in the second half, but with great defense.
Atlanta forced Philadelphia to commit seven turnovers in its first 12 possessions. The Hawks broke the Sixers’ rhythm and even if they let Curry and Embiid keep scoring, the rest of the team was slack and destitute. The Hawks will look to carry this momentum and crush Philadelphia for good.
Pick: Finishing the Job
Atlanta has overcome two big deficits and won both of them. Both as underdogs. Logically, the money should be on Atlanta at plus money. But, Philadelphia is still the better team. The question is if the Sixers can overcome their recent string of meltdowns to play a full game of basketball.
Embiid has been unstoppable, knee issues and all. He had 37 points and 13 boards on 12-of-20 shooting. Curry scored 36 points and hit seven threes. But Tobias Harris (four points) and Simmons (eight points) will need to step up. Harris had his worst game of the postseason and should be better.
However, at this point, the Hawks want it more and have shown the ability to stay mentally tough for 48 minutes. They have a wider array of scorers and Young has blossomed into — dare I say– a young version of James Harden. The Hawks close out the series.
Pick: Atlanta Hawks +125
Bonus Pick: Grueling Finish
This will be a slog of a game. The Sixers should come out angry and drop 120 points on Atlanta. That is possible. But as the two games have shown, defense has won out in the end. Strings of bad shooting, turnovers and fouls could dominate the second half and sink the totals.
Pick: Totals – Under 221½