As the 76ers were nearly finished blowing an 18-point lead late in the third quarter, Joel Embiid argued with a referee then turned toward a boisterous Atlanta crowd and appeared to say, “Shut the f*** up.”
Instead, Hawks fans grew even louder when Embiid missed a very makeable game-winning layup attempt with 8.8 seconds left.
Embiid missed all 12 of his shots in the second half as Atlanta tied the second-round series 2-2 with a 103-100 win in Game 4 Monday.
The Hawks have extended the series with Game 5 Wednesday in Philadelphia and Game 6 Friday in Atlanta.
The 76ers’ big concern: Embiid – playing through a knee injury – is wearing down after playing so well earlier in the series. Though Embiid (17 points, 21 rebounds, four assists, +2) had good numbers, he looked far worse as the game progressed. Not only did he miss all of his second-half shots, his defense and activity level slipped.
On the other hand, Hawks star Trae Young (25 points on 8-of-26 shooting with 18 assists) made the most of his off shooting night. Young set up his teammates – including Bogdan Bogdanovic (22 points) and John Collins (14 points, 12 rebounds and a couple awesome dunks) – and at least hit some key shots.
Philadelphia has been better than Atlanta throughout the regular season and, really, within this series overall. But Embiid – who finished second in MVP voting – is a big reason for that. If his effectiveness drops, that changes the dynamic significantly.