Sixers refuse to hit the panic button after last night’s embarrassing collapse

Tobias Harris
LOS ANGELES, CA – MARCH 01: Philadelphia 76ers Forward Tobias Harris (12) looks on during a NBA game between the Philadelphia 76ers and the Los Angeles Clippers on March 1, 2020 at STAPLES Center in Los Angeles, CA. (Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire)

Game 5 couldn’t have gone worse for the Sixers. With hopes to successfully defend their home court and take the series lead, the Sixers fell flat at Wells Fargo Center.

After storming out to a 20-point lead, a lead they carried into the fourth quarter, the Sixers completely collapsed at the end of the ballgame.

Up by 22-points near the end of the third quarter, the Sixers were on the wrong end of two different scoring runs by the Hawks. The first was jumpstarted by Sixers HC Doc Rivers as he once again rolled with the all-bench lineup.

The Philly offense came to a near halt in the second half. Joel Embiid and Seth Curry, who combined for 73 of the Sixers’ 106 points, were the only Sixers to score after halftime.

Tobias Harris, Ben Simmons, and Furkan Korkmaz left a lot to be desired from the starting lineup. Through 103 combined minutes of play, the trio combined for a mere 20 points on an abysmal 6-22 shooting.

Simmons and Harris were especially disappointing. Embiid and Curry did all they could to keep the Sixers in the game but they simply needed more from their all-stars. Four points from Tobias Harris is completely unacceptable from a player of his caliber. I’m willing to chalk it up to a rare off night, but the Sixers cannot afford an encore performance.

As for Ben Simmons, his porous free-throw shooting and lack of purpose as an off-ball player in halfcourt sets once again hindered the Sixers’ offense.

In a game Philly ultimately lost by three points, Simmons clanked 10 of his 14 free throw attempts, leaving one to wonder what could have been if it weren’t for his shortcomings at the line.

Last night’s performance was the worst offensive showing by the team in recent memory and could not have come at a worse time. In desperate need of rest, the team will now have to play seven games to even make it out of the second round after dropping Game 5 at home.

To make matters worse, the team’s first elimination game will be hosted in the unfriendly confines of Atlanta, where an unrelenting road environment awaits.

Despite staring down the barrel of elimination, the Sixers weren’t rushing to the panic button after yesterday’s meltdown.

“This one is gonna hurt,” Tobias Harris said. “It hurts but tomorrow we have to put it behind us… our backs are against the wall right now and we have to play like it.”

The Game 5 defeat will sting for a while, but the Sixers won’t have much time to pity themselves. With only a couple of days to prepare for an elimination game in Atlanta, the team is staying focused on the task at hand.

“One game should never affect the next day,” Seth Curry said. “We’re grown men in here. We know who we are as a team.”

Hopefully, a long look in the mirror is all the Sixers need to wake up. As bad as dropping Game 5 at home was, the Sixers still proved they are talented enough to knock the Hawks off. For the better part of the first three quarters, the Sixers bullied Atlanta en route to a big lead.

They simply took their foot off the gas too soon- a mistake they can’t afford to make again. For now, the Sixers aren’t ringing any alarms or waving the white flag.

Instead, the no.1-seeded Sixers will look to limit self-inflicted wounds and play hard from whistle to whistle.

Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire