All the Sixers need to put this miserable week behind them is two puny victories. Get one on Friday in Atlanta and another on Sunday back here and blowing 18- and 26-point leads will be an amusing footnote on the way to a berth in the Eastern Conference Finals.
Simple, right? (Taps microphone.) Is this thing on?
The truth is that one more loss and this series will join a lengthy and dubious list of monumental Philly collapses in the last 60 years. Here’s a look at those flops, and what happened immediately after:
Collapse: Led the National League by 6½ games with 12 to play, but then Cincinnati’s Chico Ruiz stole home (with slugger Frank Robinson at bat) to start a 10-game Phillies losing streak. The Phillies finished tied for second as St. Louis claimed the NL’s postseason berth. The World Series was the only playoff round in those days and the Cardinals beat the Yankees in 7.
What happened next: A batting practice fight between reigning rookie of the year Dick Allen and aging but popular first baseman Frank Thomas poisoned what was a promising season. It led to Thomas’ release and the fans to turn on Allen amid racial tensions throughout the country. The Phillies finished 11½ games out, and wouldn’t see the playoffs until 1976, a 26-year drought.
Collapse rank: 1st of 9
Collapse: The 1968 Sixers became the first NBA team to blow a 3-1 series lead as the rival Celtics ended their hopes for back-to-back titles. Two of the three losses were at the Spectrum.
What happened next: Wilt Chamberlain, who had spent most of his first nine seasons in Philadelphia as either a Warrior or Sixer, was traded to Los Angeles after his relationship with the Sixers’ front office became too toxic. The Sixers would go nine years before winning a playoff series.
Collapse rank: 5th of 9
Collapse: The Phillies gave up three runs in an ugly ninth inning to turn a 5-3 lead into a 6-5 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers in Game 3 of the 1977 NLCS. Many of their wounds in the frame were self-inflicted, including manager Danny Ozark’s decision NOT to use a defensive replacement for Greg Luzinski.
What happened next: Tommy John got the better of Steve Carlton the following day and the Phillies, who had been playing baseball for 93 years, still had never won a playoff series. They lost to the Dodgers again the following year. The whole thing was maddening.
Collapse rank: 4th of 9
Super Bowl XV
Collapse: The height of the Dick Vermeil era was more of a whimper as the 9-7 Raiders whipped the 12-4 Eagles, who looked tighter than Ben Simmons at the free-throw line.
What happened next: The Eagles lost in the wild-card round the following year and went 3-6 in 1982, when a burned-out Vermeil resigned after his seventh season.
Collapse rank: 6th of 9
Not the Celtics again
Collapse: The Sixers again blew a 3-1 series lead to the Celtics, with the loss in Game 7 of these 1981 conference finals the most grinding. They held an 89-82 lead with just over five minutes remaining and lost, 91-90. They closed the game with six missed shots, four turnovers and one measly made free throw.
What happened next: The Sixers, Celtics and Lakers of this era were awesome. Philadelphia beat Boston in the conference finals the following year, nearly blowing a 3-1 lead, and finally won the championship in 1983.
Collapse rank: 2nd of 9
“We beat ourselves more than they won it.”
Collapse: The Phillies held a 14-9 lead going to the top of the eighth inning in Game 4 of the 1993 World Series. The Blue Jays banged out six runs -- three off Larry Andersen, three off Mitch Williams -- and instead of tying the series, the Phillies found themselves in a 3-1 hole.
What happened next: Curt Schilling gave them some life with a two-hit shutout in Game 5, but Joe Carter hit a homer for the ages off Williams in Game 6 to give Toronto the Championship. It would be 14 years before the Phillies made it back to the postseason.
Collapse rank: 7th of 9
Collapse: The Flyers needed just five games to win each of their first three playoff series, but had no answers as Detroit swept them in the finals. Coach Terry Murray said his team was going through a “choking situation” after a 6-1 loss in Game 3. They went quietly the following night in Detroit, 2-1, scoring their only goal with 15 seconds left.
What happened next: Murray was fired after the season, they’d lose in the first round the next two years, and Eric Lindros would never make it back to the Cup finals.
Collapse rank: 9th of 9
Eagles’ last game at Vet
Collapse: The Eagles started the 2002 NFC Championship with a touchdown in the first minute following Brian Mitchell’s 70-yard kickoff return and Duce Staley’s 20-yard scoring run. Tampa Bay outscored them 27-3 the rest of the way.
What happened next: The Eagles reached the conference championship again the following season (lost to Carolina) and finally got to the Super Bowl in 2004 before losing to New England.
Collapse rank: 3rd of 9
Carpenter outduels Halladay
Collapse: The Phillies couldn’t close out a 2-1 series lead in a best-of-5 against the Cardinals in 2011, dropping the final two games as the offense dried up. Chris Carpenter shut out the Phils, 1-0, in the deciding game at Citizens Bank Park. Roy Halladay gave up a first-inning run, but was otherwise flawless.
What happened next: Ryan Howard (2-for-19 in the series, .105) tore his Achilles’ running to first on the game’s final out, a symbolic end to the Phillies’ run of five consecutive division titles. They haven’t been back to the playoffs since.
Collapse rank: 8th of 9