After a solid first half in Game 4 on Monday night against the Atlanta Hawks, the Philadelphia 76ers struggled to maintain their lead in the second half. As a result of the Sixers' offense completely stalling in the third and fourth quarter, the Hawks took advantage and evened the second-round series out 2-2.
What went wrong for the Sixers exactly? A handful of things if you ask each individual person involved in the collapse. 76ers head coach Doc Rivers mentioned that his team got flat-out outworked against the Hawks on Monday night.
All-Star center Joel Embiid noted that his knee affected the way he played throughout the matchup, and it got worse as the game progressed. According to the team's other All-Star, Ben Simmons, he believes he should've played more aggressively down the stretch as he did in Game 3 this past Friday night.
“I definitely should have been more aggressive and attack more,” said the Sixers point guard. “I think the spacing was a little off this game. We didn’t get to our spacing. We weren’t as aggressive in that second half.”
In Game 3, Simmons played passive on offense in the first half. Going into halftime of that matchup, Simmons had just four points off of five shots in 17 minutes of action. After telling him to attack more and running the offense through Simmons, Doc Rivers wanted his All-Star guard to take over in the second half.
His plan was a successful one as Simmons flipped the switch and collected 14 points in 16 minutes. After finishing a successful Game 3 victory with 18 points, many hoped to see the same Simmons come out in Game 4.
But that's not the way the game played out. In the first half of Game 4, Simmons finished with eight points in 19 minutes. As the 76ers needed somebody to step up in the second half as Joel Embiid couldn't hit a single field goal, Simmons was one of several Sixers to fail his team on Monday.
Playing in 17 minutes in the second half, Simmons attempted just one shot. After getting fouled twice, he went 1-2 from the charity stripe. He finished the second half with just three points as the Sixers fell short to the Hawks on the road.
While there's plenty of blame to go around for the second-half woes the Sixers faced on Friday night, Simmons acknowledges his lack of aggressiveness throughout the final phases of the game could be seen as detrimental to his team. Now, the Sixers have to win two out of the next three games to punch their ticket to the next round after dropping Game 4.