This is Philadelphia, and these are the Sixers. It’s been 38 years since their last title. Surely you didn’t expect them to waltz through these first two rounds. Stats, facts, trivia and a bag of ice for my knee as we look ahead to Game 5.
1. Doc Rivers is the only coach who’s watched his teams blow a 3-1 series lead three times. It happened in 2003 when he was with Orlando (against Detroit), 2015 with the Clippers (against Houston) and last year, also with the Clippers (against Denver). No NBA team has ever blown a 3-0 series lead.
2. The Sixers, counting the first two games of this series, have won 11 in a row against the Wizards at the Wells Fargo Center. The last nine have been with Joel Embiid in the lineup.
3. Embiid’s status for Wednesday’s Game 5 was listed as doubtful as of Tuesday afternoon, but a couple of numbers to crunch: The Sixers were 10-11 this season without Embiid, 4-9 against playoff teams. The big fella has right knee soreness after landing awkwardly on Monday.
4. Among the other two MVP finalists, Golden State was 2-7 without Steph Curry, while Denver’s Nikola Jokic didn’t miss any games.
» READ MORE: From the archives: The case for Joel Embiid for MVP
5. Ben Simmons was mostly invisible offensively in the Game 4 loss, and his five FGAs were his fewest of the series. It seems counterintuitive, but the Sixers were 3-0 this season when Simmons had five or fewer field goal attempts, and 15-5 when he had eight or fewer. Still, when Embiid goes out injured, Simmons has to do better than zero field-goal attempts over the final 22 minutes.
6. The Sixers went 29-7 at home during the season, second-best record in the league behind Utah (31-5). Plus, it’s going to be a full house at the Wells Fargo Center for the first time in 448 days. PointsBet’s Jay Croucher told the Inquirer the Sixers would be favored by about 7 with Embiid or 4 without him.
7. Veteran George Hill is 10-3 in the first two rounds of Eastern Conference playoff series. He had one of his better games (14 points in 22 meaningful minutes) since coming to the Sixers in late March.
8. Hill has been traded six times in his 13-year career. The first time was draft night 2011 when the Spurs sent him to Indiana for Kawhi Leonard and the rights to two international players: Erazem Lorbek and Davis Bertans. Leonard is on a Hall of Fame path, Lorbek never played in the NBA, and Bertans had 15 points for the Wiz in Game 4 before leaving with a calf strain. He’ll miss the next 4-6 weeks according to ESPN.
9. Salaries for the 2020-21 season: Leonard, $34.3 million, Bertans $15 million, Hill $9.6 million.
10. The Sixers were 35-7 with Simmons and Embiid in the lineup during the regular season. They went 14-16 when one or both sat out.