The Philadelphia 76ers simply got outworked during a 103-100 loss in Game 4. They were less aggressive in almost every area: on the offensive glass, fighting for 50/50 balls, getting back in transition, diving for loose balls.
The Sixers blew an 18-point lead in a contest where the Atlanta Hawks flat-out bullied them in the second half. Head coach Doc Rivers didn’t mince any words in his post-game Zoom call with reporters. He knows what went wrong and made damn sure his players heard it.
“We stopped passing,” Rivers said. “I thought we started the game off that way, then we got back to the ball movement then we went back to hero basketball basically. Everybody wanted to be the hero instead of just trusting the team, trusting each other. When you do that, you usually lose, especially when the other team outworks you the whole fucking game.”
Rivers went on to call out his team’s toughness on Monday night as the Hawks tied the Eastern Conference semifinals at 2-2. John Collins and the Hawks put on a clinic in how to hustle and intimate the opposition.
“I just thought they were the more physical, tougher team and it wasn’t even close tonight,” Rivers said. “I was really disappointed in how our approach was tonight. Give the Hawks credit. I thought they knocked us around the floor. I thought Collins was the toughest man on the floor all night.”
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Sixers Had Chances Late in Fourth Quarter
Despite surrendering that huge 18-point lead, the Sixers still had ample opportunities to win the basketball game. Joel Embiid took a perfectly-placed pass from Tobias Harris into the paint with 8.8 seconds left in the fourth quarter and missed an easy lay-up. That bucket would have likely given Philly the victory with the Hawks leading 101-100. Instead, the ball clanked off the rim and the rebound slipped through Ben Simmons’ outstretched hands.
“The game should have never come to that point,” Rivers said. “We missed so many opportunities. I can’t wait to watch the film but my eyes told me that we blew a golden opportunity tonight.”
Embiid was playing hurt down the stretch after re-aggravating his injured right knee in the first half. He went into the locker room before halftime to get treatment. After the game, the All-Star center admitted he couldn’t jump up for a dunk on the possible game-winner. Embiid also claimed he got fouled on the play.
“Great look. I just didn’t have the lift,” Embiid said. “I thought I got fouled, too. But usually, I would go up especially with a bucket like that, try to dunk it, try to get the foul and the and-one.”
Seth Curry Had Chance to Force Overtime
The Sixers had one more chance to tie it in the closing seconds when Seth Curry launched a contested three-pointer at the buzzer. Trae Young had just hit two free throws to give the Hawks a 103-100 advantage with 6.6 seconds remaining. Rivers drew up what a play for Curry and prayed for a clean look.
The three-point specialist fought through a screen and fired off a shot that hit the back rim. Game over.
“I did, I did,” Curry said when asked if he thought the shot was good.
Shake Milton initially turned down an open three before finding a streaking Curry. Furkan Korkmaz was the other option on the wing.
“Seth had a good look, thought he made it actually,” Rivers said. “You’re not going to get what you want with seven seconds left but we got a decent shot.”