Game 4 is often the most pivotal of a seven-game series. If a team down 2-1 can tie the series at two games apiece, it resets things anew as a best-of-three contest. Meanwhile, if the team up 2-1 can extend the series advantage with a Game 4 win, it becomes a lead so seemingly insurmountable that it became a meme when the Cavaliers managed to overcome it in the 2016 Finals.
Of course, this Game 4 is anything but pivotal. Thanks to poor late-game execution in Games 1 and 3, and an overall embarrassing performance in Game 2, the Philadelphia 76ers find themselves down 3-0 to the Boston Celtics. No NBA team has ever come back to win a playoff series after being down 3-0. Only three times has a team even come back to force a Game 7. Serious NBA thinkers have proposed officially calling the series if a team goes up 3-0; that’s how utterly meaningless a game like today’s is viewed.
Nevertheless, the Sixers and Celtics will take the floor this afternoon. Joel Embiid said he doesn’t want a sweep on his resume. Brett Brown’s days as Philadelphia’s head coach are so numbered that we might as well have The Count around ticking them off. Does this Sixers team have one “win one for the gipper” performance in them?
Part of me wants to see the Sixers play with a great deal of personal pride and resolve with their backs against the wall this afternoon. As a lifelong Philadelphia fan, I never want to see my team swept, but absolutely not by the Boston Celtics. But now, another part of me wants a mercy killing. Let’s put this writhing, dying Sixers season out of its misery and get down to the business of clearing the slate as much as the salary cap and Elton Brand’s bloated free agency contracts will allow. I’m conflicted.
We’ll see what happens. After seven years, today could be the last time we see Brett Brown pace the sidelines for Philadelphia. It’s not often you can knowingly watch the end of an era. Go Sixers?
Who: Philadelphia 76ers vs. Boston Celtics, Game 4
Where: ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, Orlando, FL (The Bubble)
When: 1:00pm ET
Listen: 97.5 The Fanatic