Never say never.
The Atlanta Hawks looked finished. Leading by 26 points during the third quarter, the Philadelphia 76ers appeared in cruise control.
Perhaps sensing a 3-2 series lead was within their grasp, the Sixers offence went to sleep, setting the scene for a remarkable comeback. Atlanta outscored Philadelphia 40-19 in the fourth period, silencing the crowd to pick up the 109-106 victory.
According to ESPN Stats and Info , the blown 26-point lead is the third-largest blown lead in a playoff game over the last 25 seasons. Atlanta now lead 3-2 in the series, with Game 6 at home giving the Hawks a chance to advance to the Eastern Conference Finals.
Trae bounces back
Declaring his intent to guard Trae Young after a Game 1 loss, Ben Simmons has held Young to 24.7 points per game on 39 percent from three and 29 percent from long range across games 2-4.
In Game 5, Young continued his 2021 postseason villain path, torching the Sixers for 39 points and seven assists, shooting 10-for-23 from the floor.
Trae Young has played 10 career playoff games.- StatMuse (@statmuse) June 17, 2021
He's scored 30+ points in half of them. pic.twitter.com/skUiPa8t9t
Young scored 13 of his 39 in the fourth quarter, including nine in the final three minutes where he also went 5-for-5 from the free-throw line.
Sweet Lou clutch down the stretch
Veteran guard Lou Williams joined Young in the backcourt down the stretch, playing the entire fourth quarter to pour in 13 points for the period.
In fact, Williams checked into the game at the 4:56 mark of the third quarter with the Hawks trailing 75-54 and would never return to the bench.
Atlanta outscored Philadelphia 55-31 the rest of the way.
Lou Williams entered the game in the 3rd quarter when the Hawks were down 21 points.- StatMuse (@statmuse) June 17, 2021
He played the rest of the way and the Hawks went on a 55-31 run since that point.
2 STL pic.twitter.com/86OKchuFzm
Embiid lands first blow
Coming off a 4-for-20 performance in Game 4, Embiid wasted no time in setting the tone in Game 5. The big man was utterly dominant in the first period, dropping 17 points on 8-for-8 from the field in 11 minutes.
Overall, the hot start from Embiid sparked the Sixers who ran out to a 38-24 advantage after the first frame.
Embiid (24 PTS & 10 REB) couldn't be stopped in the 1st half 💪 pic.twitter.com/1cMHK71kyN- NBA on TNT (@NBAonTNT) June 17, 2021
In typical Embiid fashion, he had the crowd in a frenzy late in the period after picking up a technical foul for talking trash with Clint Capela.
Capela awakens Embiid?
After the above-mentioned poor performance in Game 4 from Embiid, Capela played a dangerous game by going public with some thoughts about Embiid.
"Whenever you wear him out, everything becomes tougher for him," Capela told reporters. "When the fatigue comes in, it's a different ballgame."
Now, those comments could be interpreted as perfectly innocent and a legitimate fact, but, it could be also be seen as handing the Philadelphia star unnecessary motivation with the series tied at 2-2 heading back to Philadelphia.
After the dominant first quarter, it was more of the same without, as Embiid overpowered the Hawks defence to score at will.
The night wasn't completely without a scare for Sixers fans, with Embiid once again hitting the floor for hard falls on repeat. Late in the fourth quarter, Embiid crashed to the hardwood after a block attempt, grabbing his left knee while grimacing in pain. Limping up the floor, Embiid would stay on the floor.
Finishing with 37 points, 13 rebounds, five assists, two steals and four blocks, it was a dominant showing from Embiid despite finishing on a sour note.
Joel Embiid tonight:- StatMuse (@statmuse) June 17, 2021
The Sixers outscored the Hawks by 11 points with Embiid ON the court and outscored by 14 points with Embiid OFF the court in Game 5. pic.twitter.com/V5cWXk56Bb
Embiid went scoreless in the final seven minutes of the fourth quarter, going o-for-3 from the field and missing both free-throws with 10.2 seconds left and the Sixers trailing by three points.
Despite the monster stat line, Embiid and the Sixers were booed off the floor from home fans.
Career night for Seth
The impressive postseason for Seth Curry has continued.
Averaging 16.5 points on 45 percent shooting from deep in the postseason, Curry exploded in Game 5 for a career postseason best 36 points on 13-for-19 shooting including seven makes from beyond the arc.
The point tally topped his previous playoff best of 30 which came in Game 5 of the first round against Washington as the Sixers advanced with a 4-1 series win.
Overall, Embiid and Curry combined for 73 of the Sixers' 106 points.
Simmons and Harris go quiet
Tobias Harris and Ben Simmons combined for 12 points on 4-for-15 shooting in Game 5.
The pair also went scoreless in the second half, with Embiid and Curry the only Sixers to make a field goal in the second half.
In addition to their scoring struggles, Simmons woes at the free-throw line continued. Just 18-for-53 (34 percent) from the line in the postseason heading into tonight, the Australian finished 4-for-14 from the stripe in Game 5.
The pressure is suddenly all on the Sixers, with the No. 1 seed facing elimination on the road in Game 6. The series will take only one night off before the Hawks have their chance at continuing a fairytale run in the 2021 playoffs.
The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA or its clubs.