Behind their leading man, Trae Young — who scored 39 points — and the 76ers going completely cold, Atlanta were able to race back from the huge second-half deficit and give themselves a great opportunity to clinch the series victory in front of their own fans on Friday.
The comeback was a momentous one in franchise and league history, too, as it was the biggest playoff comeback in the Hawks’ franchise history as well as the fourth-biggest playoff comeback in NBA history.
While many at the beginning of the series might not have given Atlanta a chance against the No. 1 seed 76ers, head coach Nate McMillan says now it’s time to sit up and take notice of his side.
Young, who’s really emerged as the Hawks’ focal point this season, praised the group’s togetherness.
History repeating itself
Fresh off the back of blowing an 18-point lead against Atlanta in game four, it was another disappointing evening for Joel Embiid and his fellow 76ers.
After a poor second half in game four — Embiid shot 0-12 in the second half — the 76ers came out on Wednesday night with a point to prove, racing into a 62-40 lead at half time.
Despite clearly suffering with the partially torn meniscus in his knee, Embiid looked excellent like he’s done throughout the season, scoring 37 points.
And although they had a 24-point lead with just two minutes left in the third quarter, it wasn’t enough for the 76ers as the Hawks outscored them 48-21 in the remaining time — including a 15-0 run at the end of the game — to clinch a vital victory in Philadelphia.
“We got too comfortable and didn’t play the way we should be playing. Didn’t move the ball as much in the second half. Didn’t get as many easy shots. And defensively, there were too many lapses where we didn’t communicate.”
The Hawks’ official Twitter account summed up aptly how their fans are probably feeling after the rollercoaster win.
The Hawks, made up of a core of young core centered around Young, have the chance to close out an unlikely playoff series win on Friday when the teams take to the court in Atlanta for game six.