When the Philadelphia 76ers beat the Boston Celtics in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference semifinals and returned home for Game 6, it looked like they were on their way to the Eastern Conference Finals for the first time since 2001.
But they fell behind by a big margin on Thursday, fought back and fell apart in crunch time, losing 95-86, and now there is a feeling of impending doom surrounding the team.
League MVP Joel Embiid had a decent 26 points in Game 6, but he didn’t touch the ball for almost the final four minutes of the game, and it is shocking that his teammates couldn’t get him the rock when the contest was being decided.
“I don’t think I touched the ball the last 4 minutes of the game.”—Joel Embiid after Game 6
Almost. Embiid’s final touch came with 3:59 left.
That 1 touch is tied for the fewest he had in the final 4 minutes of a game all year. October 24—a blowout vs. the Pacers—he also had… pic.twitter.com/aCDxO3AjEg
— Kevin O’Connor (@KevinOConnorNBA) May 12, 2023
Embiid had his best season yet, averaging 33.1 points a game on 54.8 percent field-goal shooting while leading the league in scoring for the second straight year.
But he still sometimes suffers from the mysterious ailment of not consistently imposing his physical will on his opponents.
With Embiid disappearing down the stretch in Game 6, the Sixers now face the daunting task of winning a Game 7 in Boston, something that opposing teams have rarely accomplished.
They’re hoping for a repeat of 1982, when the Julius Erving-led Sixers lost a potential closeout Game 6 at home, only to shock everyone by running away with Game 7 at the old Boston Garden a year after blowing a 3-1 series lead and falling in a classic Game 7 in Boston.
Then there is the matter of Philly head coach Doc Rivers’ poor track record in his last nine attempts to reach the conference finals.
Doc Rivers last 9 games to make it to the Conference Finals:
2015 Game 5 — Loss
2015 Game 6 — Loss
2015 Game 7 — Loss
2017 Game 7 — Loss
2020 Game 5 — Loss
2020 Game 6 — Loss
2020 Game 7 — Loss
2021 Game 7 — Loss
2023 Game 6 — Loss pic.twitter.com/rD6VT9XHnk
— َ (@FeelLikeDrew) May 12, 2023
It will likely take a Herculean effort from Embiid and his team to overcome that old Boston jinx and take Game 7 on the parquet floor.
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