Losing a 26-point lead on their court, the Philadelphia 76ers fell 109-106 on Wednesday against the Atlanta Hawks, who are one triumph away from sealing their place in the NBA Eastern Conference final.
The young Trae Young, with another recital of 39 points and 7 assists, led a spectacular comeback in the fourth quarter with which Atlanta advanced 3-2 in this conference semifinal.
The exhibitions of Joel Embiid, with 37 points, and Seth Curry with another 36 and 7 triples were useless, since among all the other Sixers players they barely added six points in the entire second half.
Atlanta, fifth-ranked in the regular season in the East, will have two chances to eliminate first-ranked Philadelphia, starting with their sixth game Friday in front of their crowd.
The Sixers largely dominated the scoreboard throughout the game but ended up giving up a 26-point lead, the third most bulky in the last 25 years in the playoffs.
With 2 minutes and 10 seconds to go, Doc Rivers’ team dominated by 24 points (85-61) and started the last quarter 18 points ahead, at which point the debacle began.
Trae Young and Lou Williams, each with 13 points, led the offensive rush for the Hawks, who added 40 points in the fourth quarter.
«We continue fighting. It does not matter what the score is, if we are up or down. I am proud of this team, ”said Trae Young. “We are very confident in ourselves, we are a great group. We love each other and that is reflected on the track.
At 22, the point guard continues to star in some dazzling first playoffs of his career with averages of 29.6 points, 2.6 triples, 10.8 rebounds and 1.8 steals in this semifinal.
– “We’ll be back for the seventh game” –
To the despair of Rivers and the 18,600 fans at the Wells Fargo Center, the Sixers only added 19 points in the deciding quarter, all of them from Embiid or Curry except for two book shots from Ben Simmons.
The Australian symbolized the failure of the Sixers with his shipwreck from the free throw line, with a percentage of 28.5% (4/14).
Simmons, with 8 total points (2/4 in field goals); power forward Tobias Harris, with 4 (2/11) and Turkey’s Furkan Korkmaz, with 8 (2/7), jettisoned a game that Embiid had soon set for Philadelphia.
Despite the knee problems that he dragged in these playoffs, Embiid marked territory by starting with 17 points without failure (8/8) on his way to a personal count of 37 points, 13 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 steals and 4 blocks.
Down the stretch, however, the Cameroonian was unable to bear all the responsibility and ended up missing two free throws that would have put the Sixers within one point of Atlanta with 10 seconds left.
Before the press, Doc Rivers acknowledged that it was “a tough defeat” but was confident of turning the tie around.
“They scored 40 points and we scored 19” in the last quarter, he remarked. “It’s our fault, mine and the players’ fault, and we have to find a way to fix it. We will do it and we will come back here for the seventh game.
The winner of this tie will face in the Eastern final the winner of the other semifinal between the Milwaukee Bucks and the Brooklyn Nets, who lead the series 3-2. (AFP)