I had all these great Seth Curry stats. Incredible Joel Embiid stats. Unreal team defense stats. Really. They were all ready to go.
And then disaster.
I didn’t want to do it. I hated to do it. But I had to do it. Yes, the dreaded historic blown-lead stats.
The 76ers Wednesday night became only the sixth team in NBA history to lose a playoff game after leading by 18 points going into the fourth quarter.
Their 109-106 loss to the Hawks at the Wells Fargo Center in Game 5 of their Eastern Conference semifinal series was historic for all the wrong reasons.
This was a collapse of historic proportions and if you have a weak heart, I suggest you head over to the Eagles page and read my story on Nick Sirianni’s coaching philosophy or Dave Zangaro’s story on potential 1st-time Eagles Pro Bowlers.
Because this one hurts.
But the stats must go on!
HISTORIC COLLAPSE: NBA teams had won 117 consecutive games when leading by 18 or more points going into the fourth quarter and 159 consecutive games in regulation. Overall, NBA teams leading by 18 or more points after three quarters were 618-5 before Wednesday night and only three teams have ever blown a bigger lead with one quarter to go. The only team to blow a bigger lead at home in regulation after three quarters was the 2012 Grizzlies, who led the Clippers by 19 points after three quarters (85-64) but lost 99-98.
FOURTH-QUARTER NIGHTMARE: The Hawks outscored the 76ers 40-19 in the fourth quarter. It’s only the second time in franchise history the Sixers have been outscored by 21 points in the fourth quarter of a playoff game and the first time at home. The Celtics outscored them 43-20 in the fourth quarter of a game at Fleet Center in 2002. The 40 points are the most the 76ers have allowed in the fourth quarter of a playoff game since that same game in Boston. The last time the 76ers allowed 40 points in a fourth quarter at home in the postseason was 1990, when the Bulls outscored them 45-31. Michael had 49 in that game.
OK, THIS IS IMPOSSIBLE: The 76ers were outscored by 25 points in the second half, 69-44. It’s the first time they’ve been outscored by 25 points in the second half of a playoff game in 52 years and only the second time ever. In 1969, the Celtics outscored them by 30 points (79-49) in the second half of a game they won 134-103 in Boston. So it’s the worst postseason second half the 76ers have ever endured at home. They’ve only been outscored by 25 or more points in a regular-season home game five times in the last 50 years.
THE GROTESQUE 4TH QUARTER NUMBERS: The 76ers shot 5-for-17 from the field, 0-for-4 from 3 and 9-for-14 from the foul line and were out-rebounded 12-6. The Hawks shot 16-for-22, 3-for-8 from 3 and 5-for-5 from the line. For the third time in the series, Ben Simmons did not attempt a shot in the fourth quarter. And after shooting 0-for-5 in the fourth quarter Monday, Joel Embiid shot 1-for-5 Wednesday. So he’s 1-for-10 in the last two fourth quarters (and 3-for-21 in the second half). And somehow Matisse Thybulle was minus-23 in just 7:46.
FREE THROWS KILLED THE 76ERS: It’s mainly Ben. But it’s not just Ben. The 76ers made just 23 of 38 foul shots Wednesday night for just 60.5 percent. That’s their worst foul shooting performance in a playoff game in 12 years, since they shot 55 percent (11-for-20) in a 100-98 win in Orlando in 2009. It’s their worst at home in 36 years, since they shot 58.5 percent against the Bucks in a 121-112 win in 1985 at the Spectrum.
AND THE ENTIRE POSTSEASON: Overall, the 76ers are shooting just 67.7 percent from the foul line this postseason. That’s their lowest in any postseason since they shot 63.0 percent in 1968. They’ve shot below 70 percent in four of their five games against the Hawks and in seven of their 10 postseason games so far. They’re the 12th team in NBA history to shoot worse than 70 percent in at least seven of their first 10 games in a postseason.
THEY GOT NO HELP: Curry and Embiid scored all 12 of the 76ers’ second-half baskets and 38 of their 44 second-half points. Curry had 25 in the second half and Embiid 13. Nobody else had more than two (Furkan Korkmaz, Milton and Simmons each made two free throws).
BEN SIMMONS IS NOT THE WORST FOUL SHOOTER EVER: But he's awfully close. Simmons is enduring one of the worst postseasons in NBA history when it comes to foul shooting. He was 4-for-14 Wednesday, leaving him 22-for-67 this postseason for 32.8 percent. That’s 6th-worst in NBA history in a postseason (minimum 50 attempts) behind Shaq twice, Ben Wallace twice and Wilt once. Simmons is 12-for-39 in the Hawks series for 30.8 percent. That’s 4th-worst in NBA history in any series (minimum 30 attempts) behind Shaq twice, Wallace once and Wilt once. His career percentage is down to 52.1 percent, 7th-worst in NBA history among the 616 players in NBA history who’ve attempted at least 100 foul shots in the postseason.
BENCH WOES: The 76ers’ bench was outscored 30-2 in the second half. The Hawks’ bench shot 13-for-17 in the second half and the 76ers’ bench shot 0-for-4, with Shake Milton scoring the only two points from the foul line.
A POSITIVE STAT FOR PEOPLE IN DENIAL: Embiid (37 points) and Curry (36 points) became the first 76ers teammates to both score 35 points in a playoff game in 31 years, since Charles Barkley had 38 and Hersey Hawkins 35 in a win over the Cavs in 1990.
AND A SETH CURRY STAT: Curry made 7 3’s and now has 28 3’s in the series, and that ties the 2nd-most in NBA history in the first five games of any postseason series. Damian Lillard made 32 in Portland’s 1st-round series against the Nuggets this year and Klay Thompson also made 28 in the Warriors’ 2016 conference semifinal series against Portland. J.J. Redick previously held the 76ers’ record for most 3’s in any series with 22 in seven games in the 2019 Toronto series. Curry came up one shy of the 76ers’ franchise record of eight 3’s in a postseason game set by Allen Iverson (in 14 attempts) against the Raptors in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference semifinals. Curry’s 25 second-half points are the most by a 76er since Allen Iverson scored 30 in the second half of a win over the Hornets in 2003.
BEN IN THE FOURTH QUARTER: Simmons has taken just one 4th-quarter shot in the last four games of the Hawks series. He’s 1-for-1 from the field in 27 minutes on the court. In the entire postseason, he’s 5-for-6 from the field in the fourth quarter in 63 minutes. That’s one shot every 10 ½ minutes. Here’s a look at Simmons’ 4th-quarter shooting from the field during the 2021 postseason:
- Game 1 vs. Wizards: 0-for-1 [9 minutes]
- Game 2 vs. Wizards: DNP
- Game 3 vs. Wizards: DNP
- Game 4 vs. Wizards: 0-for-0 [7 minutes]
- Game 5 vs. Wizards: 2-for-2 [8 minutes]
- Game 1 vs. Hawks: 2-for-2 [12 minutes]
- Game 2 vs. Hawks: 0-for-0 [3 minutes]
- Game 3 vs. Hawks: 1-for-1 [7 minutes]
- Game 4 vs. Hawks: 0-for-0 [8 minutes]
- Game 5 vs. Hawks: 0-for-0 [9 minutes]