The Philadelphia 76ers had total control of the game in the first half on Monday night against the Atlanta Hawks. As they led 62-49, it seemed the Sixers were on pace to pick up their third-straight win, gaining a 3-1 lead over the Hawks after Game 4.
But the Sixers found themselves collapsing in the second half, and the Hawks fully took advantage. Despite having a lead as big as 13 points in the second half, it was a two-point game by the time the Sixers and the Hawks entered the final quarter.
Although the lead changed over seven times in the fourth quarter, the 76ers had a prime opportunity to take the lead once and for all towards the final seconds of the game. As they trailed a single point, Doc Rivers drew up a play during a timeout.
After killing some time off the clock, the final play went to Joel Embiid, despite his second-half struggles from the field. With eight seconds left to go, Embiid got an ideal look as he cut to the basket. Unfortunately, he couldn't finish at the rim.
As Atlanta regained possession of the ball, that pretty much spelled the end for the Sixers in Game 4. Considering Embiid shot an abysmal 0-11 in the second half before his final attempt, Rivers' decision to lean on the struggling center raised some eyebrows. After the game, Rivers explained his thought process behind the decision.
"Even on those nights [when players struggle], you still go to your guys," Rivers explained postgame. "I've coached a lot of games where guys haven't had it all night, but they're your guys, and they get it."
Despite the play coming together, Embiid wasn't able to finish. While it was clear from the start of the second half he was off of his game; Rivers doesn't have any regrets behind his decision to draw the final play up for a struggling Embiid.
"I think we would take that shot all night," Rivers continued. "Whether you have it going or not, we would take that shot. That doesn't mean you make them all. That was one of the few plays that I thought we executed extremely well. We got Joel right in his sweet spot, and it didn't go in. I can live with that play. I just couldn't live with the way we played all game."
With Monday night's collapse, the Sixers now head back home to Philly to host the Hawks for Game 5. With a win, they put Atlanta's backs against the wall. With a loss, the tables turn in the series and give the Hawks home-court advantage right back.