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PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA – JUNE 16: Trae Young #11 of the Atlanta Hawks celebrates during the fourth quarter against the Philadelphia 76ers during Game Five of the Eastern Conference Semifinals at Wells Fargo Center on June 16, 2021 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. ( (Photo : Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)
No one saw that coming. The Atlanta Hawks pulled off one of the greatest comebacks in NBA playoff history, beating the Philadelphia Sixers 109-106 in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals Wednesday night. Trae Young and the rest of the Hawks played the game of their lives in front of a stunned crowd at Wells Fargo Center to grab a commanding 3-2 lead over the Sixers in their best-of-seven series.
Sixers start fast but fade in the end
The Sixers looked to be on their way to a comfortable playoff win after a furious start in Game 5. Joel Embiid was spectacular in the opening quarter, making all eight of his field goal attempts to help Philadelphia build a 14-point advantage at the end of the first period. The Sixers further stretched that margin in the second quarter, leading by as much as 26 points before settling for a 62-40 cushion at the break.
Philadelphia maintained that big lead in the third quarter with Seth Curry and Embiid providing the firepower for the Sixers. Curry was lights out in this game, scoring 36 points on 13 of 19 shooting from the field, including 7 of 12 from beyond the arc. Embiid, on the other hand, had 37 points, 13 rebounds, five assists, two steals and four blocks in a brilliant all-around performance. Unfortunately for the Sixers, Curry and Embiid didn’t get much help as they were the only players to score a field goal for Philadelphia in the second half.
Young and Williams the fourth-quarter heroes for Atlanta
Basketball is a team sport and those numbers spelled trouble for Philadelphia with the Hawks taking full advantage. Led by Trae Young and Lou Williams, the Hawks launched a furious fightback at the start of the fourth quarter, cutting the lead to just 11 points, 87-76, as the Sixers’ second unit misfired.
That forced Doc Rivers’ hand as he quickly inserted his regular starters back into the game. That didn’t stop Atlanta’s momentum as the Hawks continued to pour in the points. Despite facing a 14-point deficit with 6:12 remaining in the game, the Hawks didn’t give up as they finished the contest with a stunning 23-6 run that shocked the sellout crowd in Philadelphia.
Young scored 13 of his playoff career-high 39 points during that stretch as he led Atlanta to the famous win. After Ben Simmons scored a pair of free throws to make it 104-94 in favor of Philadelphia, Young went to work, scoring nine points in an 11-0 run that gave the Hawks the lead for good. Lou Williams also played a huge part in the Hawks win, scoring 13 points in the fourth quarter.
The pressure suddenly is now with the 76ers heading into Game 6. Ben Simmons again was a non-factor in Game 5 with his suspect shooting sinking the Sixers. He shot just 4 of 14 from the free throw line, with Rivers deciding to replace him at one stage in the fourth quarter because of his shooting woes.
Tobias Harris also was disappointing in Game 5, scoring just four points on an abysmal 2 of 11 shooting from the floor. Harris, Embiid and Simmons failed in the fourth quarter when the Sixers needed them the most, with the trio shooting just 1 of 8 from the field in the final period.
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