Philadelphia 76ers fans booed their team off the court after an ugly NBA Playoff capitulation against the Atlanta Hawks, who took a 3-2 series lead on Thursday.
The 76ers coughed up a 22-point half time lead to lose 109-106 and face elimination on the road against a Hawks team that has defied expectations.
It was the second double-digit lead surrendered by the 76ers in as many games, with the Hawks erasing a 14-point deficit to tie the series in game four.
After a worrisome performance in Game 4, Sixers star Joel Embiid played the first 11 minutes of Wednesday's Eastern Conference semifinal, scored 17 points on 8-of-8 shooting, dominated defensively, stared down Atlanta Hawks center Clint Capela, warranting a technical foul, and grabbed a seat on the bench with a +17 rating and a 38-21 edge.
The game, for all intents and purposes, should have been over.
Only, the Hawks threw a counterpunch that stunned the Sixers.
Philadelphia led by 25 points at the 3:19 mark of the third quarter (83-58), and Atlanta closed Game 5 out on a 51-23 run — including a 14-0 sprint to the finish — to secure a 109-106 win and head home with a chance to close the series out.
The disastrous result lead to fans booing the team off the court after the game.
I am stunned
Sixers blow a 26 point lead
They led by 18 going into the fourth quarter
Outscored 40-19 in the fourth pic.twitter.com/43xzs9LqGt
— John Clark (@JClarkNBCS) June 17, 2021
Australian star Ben Simmons' poor free throw shooting once again came under the spotlight, with the former first over all pick going a measly 5-14 from the line.
He and Embiid struggled to hit free throws down the stretch, with Embiid missing a pair of crucial shots in the final minute.
Sixers fans fume over 'mind-numbing' NBA collapse
The costly misses earned Simmons and Embiid the disapproval of NBA legend Magic Johnson.
Plenty of other NBA fans were frustrated with the Sixers blowing another chance to win.
The Sixers shot poorly from the free throw line and the field, including superstars Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons.
— Earvin Magic Johnson (@MagicJohnson) June 17, 2021
Hawks!!!! Oh hell yeah!!! Heard about it!! Not getting those tweets from Sixers fans telling me they are keeping receipts!
An epic, mind-numbing, embarrassing choke for the ages. This Sixers team cannot win.
And I’ll say it again. Young is special. Atlanta has great chemistry.
— Adam Schein (@AdamSchein) June 17, 2021
It’s hard for me to watch Ben Simmons
— Dyl 又 (@EternityGoW) June 17, 2021
I used to think there was no possible way I’d be able to do anything a professional athlete could do while playing their sport.
But I’m almost sure I could shoot free throws better than Ben Simmons
— Martin Weiss (@martinweiss) June 17, 2021
I’ve never been more angry and frustrated as a Philadelphia sports fan, what the heck is wrong with the @sixers ?
— Cleve Bryan (@CleveBryan) June 17, 2021
The Sixers were stunned, and their fans let them hear it, booing throughout a four-minute scoring drought and littering center court with debris.
"We keep fighting no matter what the score is. I'm proud of this team," Young said.
"We have confidence in each other. We all love each other's company and it shows on the court. We never stop believing until the final buzzer goes off."
Joel Embiid scored 17 points in the first quarter and had the Sixers on their way toward a romp with a 26-point lead in the first half.
They still led 87-69 at the end of the third before they collapsed.
Williams, Gallinari and Young opened the fourth on a huge run against the Sixers' second unit and kept attacking once 76ers coach Doc Rivers was forced to put the starters in and save the lead.
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