76ers

After blowout Game 5 loss, Sixers hoping history repeats itself from last time they got their 'a-- kicked' this badly in playoffs

After blowout Game 5 loss, Sixers hoping history repeats itself from last time they got their 'a-- kicked' this badly in playoffs

TORONTO — It was just a couple days ago that the Sixers had the opportunity to take a commanding 3-1 series lead over the Raptors.

They now sit on the brink of elimination after an embarrassing 125-89 loss at Scotiabank Arena Tuesday night (see observations).

It was the Sixers' worst postseason loss since Julius Erving and company dropped Game 1 of the 1982 Eastern Conference Finals to the Celtics by 40.

These Sixers return to the Wells Fargo Center with their season and plenty of pride on the line. So how do you bounce back from one of the worst playoff defeats in franchise history?

“Forget about it,” Jimmy Butler said. “Hell, if I was the coach I wouldn’t even show the film. Move on. We got our a-- kicked. Simple as that. No other way to put it. We know what we have to do and so we got to go do it at home.”

Burning the film is one way to move on, but not something Brett Brown will likely do. 

Before this series started, Brown harped on his team limiting turnovers and not allowing Toronto to get out on the break. Well, on Tuesday, they turned it over a bunch and the Raptors made them pay. Toronto scored 31 points on 19 Sixers’ turnovers. The Raptors also scored 33 fast-break points to the Sixers’ eight.

Another key Brown discussed at length was three-point shooting. Since the acquisition of Marc Gasol, Toronto was the best three-point shooting team in the NBA. Through four games, the Raptors sure didn’t look like it, but Game 5 was much different. They hit 16 of 40 from distance while Kawhi Leonard’s back got a night of rest.

“I mean, they are difficult to guard under any circumstance,” Brown said. “When you combine [the three-point shooting] and they get it rolling here at home, it’s a difficult place to play, as it is in Philadelphia. That number of threes, and I think if you go back and dissect the game you are going to see a lot of those came in transition. That number of points in transition, 33, and 31 points off turnovers, that is haunting. You cannot win with those types of numbers.”

Just as difficult is winning without your star players rising to the occasion. 

Joel Embiid is still battling an illness and committed eight turnovers. Ben Simmons played exceptional defense on Leonard, who had his worst shooting night of the series, but turned the ball over five times and scored just seven points. Even Butler, who has been phenomenal over the last three games, went just 6 of 16 from the field.

Still, Brown was fairly animated postgame when asked about the mood of his team.

“We’re excited to go back to Philadelphia,” Brown said. “Nobody’s walking out of here, ‘woe is me.’ I promise you that. We have a prideful team. We have a team that had a poor performance. We let one slip in Philadelphia. We wish Joel were healthy. We felt like we could’ve won [Game 4]. But nobody’s walking out of here thinking anything else but we’re excited to go back to Philadelphia and find a way to win. “

To the Sixers’ credit, there wasn’t much head hanging to be seen postgame. Luckily for them, there are no style points. Tuesday’s loss was as ugly as they come, but it’s one loss. They’ll have another opportunity Thursday in a win-or-go-home game.

“We’ve just got to go in and do what we’re supposed to do on the home floor, that’s it,” Butler said. “Keep competing, keep going hard, stick together, have each other’s backs, and know that not one player on our team is going to be able to do it by themselves. We win together, we lose together, and we’re going to play together again come [Thursday].”

A reporter brought up a conversation that Embiid had with rapper Drake as he was exiting the court. Supposedly, Embiid told the Raptors super fan and global ambassador that he’d be back for Game 7 on Sunday in Toronto.

“We’re definitely going to do everything [to be back Sunday for Game 7],” Embiid said.

So, did he tell Drake he’d be back?

“Yes, I did.”

For the record, the 1982 Eastern Conference Finals went seven games.

The Sixers won Game 7 on the road.

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Al Horford makes a donation for coronavirus relief in Dominican Republic, regions where he's played in United States

Al Horford makes a donation for coronavirus relief in Dominican Republic, regions where he's played in United States

Al Horford has donated $500,000 to support coronavirus relief in the Dominican Republic, as well as in each region of the United States where he's played for a team, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium.

Horford’s father Tito was the first Dominican-born NBA player, and Al was born in the country. The family later moved to Michigan, where Horford attended Grand Ledge High School. He went to the University of Florida and has played for three NBA cities — Atlanta, Boston and Philadelphia. 

Several other members of the Sixers organization have also made charitable donations during the coronavirus pandemic. Joel Embiid has pledged to donate $500,000 to COV-19 medical relief efforts. Ben Simmons launched “The Philly Pledge,” an initiative which encourages donations to Philabundance and the PHL COVID-19 Fund that’s received support from a wide range of Philadelphia athletes, among them teammates Matisse Thybulle, Tobias Harris, Norvel Pelle and Marial Shayok. 

Sixers managing partners Josh Harris and David Blitzer have made several donations related to coronavirus relief, including to Philabundance and to CHOP and Cooper Hospital.

Limited partner Michael Rubin aims to have his company Fanatics produce a million masks and gowns for hospital and emergency healthcare workers. 

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Sixers Home School: The night Allen Iverson crossed over Michael Jordan

Sixers Home School: The night Allen Iverson crossed over Michael Jordan

There's a lot of home schooling going on right now, so why not use some of this time to learn more about the history of your favorite teams? In this edition of Sixers Home School, we look back at the night Allen Iverson crossed over Michael Jordan.

In a vacuum, rookie Allen Iverson crossing over the legendary Michael Jordan on March 12, 1997, at what was then known as the CoreStates Center was impressive enough.

Putting it into context makes you understand just how big of a deal it was at the time.

The 21-year-old Iverson was having a strong rookie campaign after the Sixers drafted him No. 1 overall. He was still a month away from setting an NBA rookie record with five straight games of 40-plus points. He wasn’t sporting what would become his trademark cornrows — though he did rock them when he won MVP of the Schick Rookie Game. 

This night was when he began to really put a bow on what would turn into a Rookie of the Year season.

As for Jordan and the Bulls, they were ho humming their way to a 69-win season and their fifth title in seven years. Jordan was 33, and though his game had evolved, he was as dominant as ever. Scottie Pippen and Dennis Rodman provided all the help he would need.

But on this night, it wasn’t about the Bulls, who celebrated receiving their championship ring ceremony by trouncing the Sixers and shutting down Iverson earlier in the season.

This was about the kid from Hampton, Virginia. The six-foot guard from Georgetown that grew up idolizing His Airness, but also told a coach back in high school that he was good enough to take him. 

“I remember the first time I played against him,” Iverson said in his Hall of Fame speech. “I walked out on the court and I looked at him, and for the first time in my life a human being didn’t look real to me.”

Though the first time the two actually talked was not necessarily cordial.

“The first time I ever talked to him was that year playing in the Rookie Game,” Iverson said in an interview with Complex. “I’ll never forget it because he said, ‘What’s up, you little b----?’ I’ll never forget it.”

Whether the moment provided extra motivation or what, Iverson was at times the best player on the court — which, given who was on the court, is a hell of a statement.

Iverson would finish with a game-high 37 points and foul out in a four-point loss. No, the Sixers didn’t win that night, but the fact that Iverson nearly willed a team full of guys like Scott Williams, Mark Davis and Rex Chapman to a victory over that juggernaut was remarkable.

But over the course of time, nobody remembers — or really cares — who won that game. It was the moment A.I. crossed over M.J. It wasn’t quite a torch-passing moment as Jordan would go on to win another MVP and championship, but it was a clear indication that Philadelphia had drafted a star.

That highlight dominated every sportscast the following day and had Sixers fans' imaginations running wild.

The legend of Iverson only continued to grow from there as he became one Philadelphia’s most celebrated athletes and joined his idol in the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in 2016.

Years later, he spoke to Jordan about the moment he got him with his legendary crossover.

“I went to a Charlotte game and I was telling him how much he meant to me and how I rocked with him,” Iverson went on to say in the interview with Complex. “He was like, ‘Man, you don’t rock with me like that because you wouldn’t have crossed me like that.’”

For as much as Iverson had idolized Jordan, his desire to beat him and be the best outweighed that.

“I always knew that once I got to the league, I was going to try my move on the best,” Iverson said, “so he was just a victim that night.”

That night, a star was born and a legacy was just beginning.

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