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“There’s 48 minutes on that clock and pretty much the conversation was we’ve been here before,” coach Nate McMillan said of the message he delivered to the Hawks in the locker room at halftime. “Even though we kept the lead, I think we had six turnovers in our first 10 possessions to start the third quarter. That’s why I called the early timeout. You could see we kind of exhaled, relaxed.”
The Sixers racked up seven turnovers in the first 12 possessions, but the spirit of Rivers’ lament was accurate. Simmons’ pair of successful free throws was actually Philadelphia’s most successful offensive possession in the final 4:45 of the game – and the Sixers didn’t hit a shot from the field during the game’s final six minutes.
The Hawks, suffering from rigor mortis for the better part of the night and ineffectual against Embiid’s dominance in the first half, attacked the Sixers in the closing minutes with both the probable and improbable.