Hawks Complete Magical Comeback, Defeat 76ers For 3-2 Series Lead
The Atlanta Hawks were effectively cooked in Game 5 of their playoff series against the 76ers, down 26 points and looking at a must-win Game 6 to avoid elimination. By the time the final buzzer rang, though, Atlanta walked away with a victory and inched one step closer to its ultimate goal of an NBA Finals victory.
Hawks head coach Nate McMillan discussed his team’s outlook on each game they prepare for. “We always talk about playing a 48-minute game,” McMillan said. “It’s a long game. And it took all 48 minutes tonight to get it done.”
The victory in Game 5 was more impressive than the fourth matchup between the Hawks and the 76ers, but both were predicated on come-from-behind victories that were spurred by relentless play, regardless of the numbers on the scoreboard.
Trae Young was once again the sparkplug for the Hawks, dropping an offensive hammer with 39 points. Young was greatly assisted by the play of veterans Danilo Gallinari and Lou Williams, with the former converting critical late-game threes and the latter scoring 13 (of his 15) points in the final frame of play.
The second straight loss for the 76ers left Sixers head coach Doc Rivers scratching his head for answers. “Listen, we scored 19 points and gave up 40,” he said, alluding to the fourth quarter. “So it’s on us. It’s on all of us. It’s on me. It’s on the players. And we have to figure out how to get back up, which we will, and bring this game back here for Game 7.”
Part of the strategy for the 76ers in the next game absolutely should include free-throw work with Ben Simmons, who is shooting a historically bad 32.8% from the line in the postseason. Joel Embiid was forced to carry the team offensively and defensively most of the night, and the 76ers will obviously look to lighten the burden on Embiid’s shoulders in Game 6.
Game 6 will be a difficult one for the 76ers, who will be on the road in Atlanta with a crowd hoping to see the Hawks clinch their second conference final berth since 1970.