June 16, 2021
Many around the Delaware Valley hoped tonight's Game 5 between the Sixers and Hawks to be a jubilant affair, with the expectation heading into Game 4 that the team would handle their business and be able to close out the series on Wednesday in front of their home fans.
Not so fast.
After blowing a double-digit halftime lead on Monday night thanks to the worst offensive half we've seen from an injured Joel Embiid and very little help from his Sixers teammates, the series suddenly hangs in the balance. A win tonight — for either team — would go a long way toward them advancing to the Eastern Conference Finals, as the team who comes out on top in Game 5 of a 2-2 series goes on to advance well over 80% of the time.
In other words, a lot is on the line for a Sixers team that is without one starter in Danny Green and playing with a clearly limited MVP runner-up in Embiid, who had big performances early in this series but came crashing back down to earth in that Game 4 loss.
Despite the injuries, the Sixers are still favored in the series, and are pretty heavy favorites in Game 5 specifically, with Philly listed as a 7.5-point favorite at seven of the eight sportsbooks over at Pickswise, including DraftKings and FanDuel. Of course, they were favorites in Games 1 and 4 as well, and neither of those went according to plan.
But that's not what Sixers fans want to hear right now. They're looking forward to Game 5 (and beyond) rather than looking back at what could've been had they been able to hold on and win Monday night's game. They're hoping Embiid looks more like the guy they saw over the first three games of the series and not the one they saw the last time they took the court. They're hoping for a more assertive Ben Simmons and another strong performance from Tobias Harris. But more than anything, they're hoping for a win.
Because if they lose and go down 3-2 to the Hawks with the series set to shift back to Atlanta for Game 6 — and if Embiid looks as lost as he did in the second half of Monday's loss — then it's going to be a dark Thursday in Philly.
But let's not get ahead of ourselves. There's a game to be played first and we'll have you covered with live updates, analysis and more as the action unfolds in South Philly...
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