I didn’t want to write about it. I swore it off, almost like it didn’t happen. Who wants to relive that? Who wants to go back to 12 hours ago?
And see Lou Williams make bucket after bucket. And see a promising season drift away.
Atlanta practically begged the 76ers to win Game 5. The Hawks only wanted to see if they could trim the lead to something manageable as the third quarter wound down. Seriously. Atlanta wanted Philadelphia to grow its lead to 30, just to give their key guys rest before Game 6. Somehow. For some reason. The 76ers didn’t take them up on the offer. We are here now. The series feels over.
A truly fantastic season…poof. Gone.
Like it never even happened.
It’s the worst loss in my lifetime, that’s for sure.
Again, I didn’t want to write about it. Who wants to relieve that?
But I feel compelled to do so. Take the good with the bad, they say.
As a fan, at least for my fandom, I live in a constant state of paranoia. Even as the lead grew last night. Even as Seth Curry made three after three. A slither of fear cast its shadow like a cartooned rain cloud. It refuses to go away. A loss like last night makes you reevaluate fandom itself. Why bother?
Ben Simmons. Tobias Harris. Joel Embiid. Doc Rivers. They’re the butt of the joke last night and today and tomorrow. Like the Clippers of recent years. People are giddy. Deservedly so. It’s embarrassing.
A stain on what should be a happy season. What should be the brink of a franchise’s first conference finals appearance in two decades.
It’ll take two straight wins. It’ll take two straight convincing wins. To change the perception. Absolutes are defined often in sports. It’s one of the more annoying things—the constant chatter about legacies, who’s better, etc.—about sports.
Last night isn’t hyperbolic. It could be a franchise-altering loss.
It partially outlines how people view Simmons and Rivers. The former who may have participated in his final home game as a 76er, the latter who has seen this movie a half dozen times before.
Embiid doesn’t skate by without blame—but it’s hard to really cast him negatively. He’s not shooting 30 percent from the free throw line this postseason. He did more than enough to give Philadelphia a win before things began to unravel with him on the bench. Embiid deserved the rest. He did his part.
Atlanta had Trae Young on the bench, his shoulder heavily wrapped like he just threw 120 pitches. But Lou Will kept scoring. Danilo Gallinari, too. Then, Young came back to push them over the top.
It shouldn’t have gotten to this point, but here we are.
When Philadelphia lost Game 4 in Atlanta despite the Hawks struggling to score. Despite being up by 17 points in the first half. It felt like two losses. This loss feels like three. Somehow, Atlanta has already won Game 1 of the conference finals.
Of course, by game time Friday, you’ll convince yourself that they’re fine. That, somehow, it’ll work itself out.
That’s fandom. The same as insanity which, as my freshman year biology teacher loved to say, is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.
I didn’t want to write about it. But here I am.
I don’t want to care for the 76ers. But I will. Over and over again.