The 76ers failed to score a 1:37 goal in the final of their playoff loss to the Celtics on Friday against the Celtics, which put them in a 3-0 hole from which they appear to be unable to return.
They are at a crossroads as a franchise and run the risk of falling apart faster than the process by which they were put together. Her dysfunction during the 2019-20 season doesn’t look like it cemented their bond in the end like it does with some chaotic but talented teams. After this season ends, Joel Embiid and injured striker Ben Simmons will have to spend the coming months listening to trade rumors rather than being comfortable with the direction of their organization.
After Philadelphia’s last loss to Boston, which ended with a 10-0 run from Celtics and a dagger from Kemba Walker, coach Brett Brown threw down a chair. During the post-game interviews, the voices of the team’s stars were dejected.
“We couldn’t get a shot. Nothing would go in,” Embiid told reporters. “I thought defensively we were good. … It sucks when you play super hard and you feel like you are doing everything you can to win games … and come up short.”
Tobias Harris said of the mood in the changing room: “Frustration, excitement, disappointment, everything you can imagine.”
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The 76ers believed they could be contenders for the NBA finals at this point. If they lose this streak, they haven’t reached the Eastern Conference semifinals, having lost for the past two years at that point.
Embiid has averaged 30 points and 13 rebounds in his three games against Boston. His help has been limited due to the struggles of high paid strikers Harris and Al Horford. Harris, whose calling card is an offensive production, was particularly bad. He shot 32.8 percent off the field and missed all 10 of his 3-point attempts.
If nothing changes in game 4, the 76ers are on a collision course with a goodbye to four games.
For Embiid, the downfall is difficult to face.
“I don’t want to be swept,” he said. “I don’t want that on my résumé. I’ll play my bum and come in and do whatever I can so we can win a game.”