Prior to tip-off in Game 5, Philadelphia 76ers Hall of Famer Charles Barkley hit the “guarantee” button on his desk in the TNT studio. Barkley was totally convinced his former team was going to win that one and close out the Eastern Conference semifinals in six games.
Wrong. The Sixers surrendered a 26-point lead in what many people are calling the worst collapse in Philly sports history.
The Dream Teamer jumped right on that bandwagon in his post-game comments on Wednesday night and joked that he wanted to hop on a plane to the City of Brotherly Love just to listen to sports talk radio.
It was a “complete choke job,” per Barkley, and the Sixers “deserve to get roasted.” Here is more from Barkley during a brutally honest rant:
This was a complete choke job. You don’t be up 26 in a must-win game. Listen, you gave up 40 points in the last quarter. You’re up 26. First of all, you should have been mad from the last game when you gave up the 18-point lead. You come home you play fantastic, you get up 26, but the problem is they brag about how good they are defensively, talking like ‘I should be the Defensive Player of the Year, I should be the Defensive Player of the Year’ but I’m like you gave up 40 at home in a playoff game. They just choked that one away … I really want to fly to Philly tomorrow and listen to the radio on my off day. And let me tell you something, they deserve to get roasted.
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Doc Rivers Guarantees Return to Philly for Game 7
The only way the Eastern Conference semifinals are heading back to Philly is if the Sixers take care of business on Friday night in Game 6. Tip-off is slated for 7:30 p.m. at State Farm Arena in Atlanta. Meanwhile, Sixers head coach Doc Rivers remains upbeat and positive about his team’s chances. He guaranteed there would be a Game 7.
“We’ll get back up. We’ll be back here [in Philly] for Game 7. I believe that,” Rivers said after Game 5. “The mood was down [in the arena], it was awful, it would have to be, what would you think it would be?
“And so this is part of sports, you have some awful moments and there is no guaranteed path to getting to your goal. We have made it hard on ourselves, we have to own up to that, all of us, and then we have to get up and be ready for the next game. It’s going to be a crazy atmosphere [in Game 7].”
Hawks ‘Wearing’ Joel Embiid Out
Hawks center Clint Capela appeared to have no answers for Joel Embiid in the first three games, but maybe it was all part of his strategy to wear the big man down. Capela, who finished sixth in Defensive Player of the Year voting, revealed that he has been letting Embiid control the paint early in games in the hope that he would be gassed in the fourth quarter. He credited that formula for back-to-back wins in Game 5 and Game 6.
“We were making his job tougher contesting everything,” Capela told reporters, via Sports Illustrated. “Making him work. Whenever you wear him out, everything becomes tougher for him. That’s how I knew it was a long series and when the fatigue comes in … it’s a different ballgame.”