The Atlanta Hawks had been here before. In fact, they didn’t even have to go back that far to remember the same situation, either.
In Game 5 of their series against the Philadelphia 76ers on Wednesday night, Atlanta was staring at a 26-point deficit as it tried to get the advantage in the Eastern Conference semifinals matchup.
On Monday, Atlanta trailed by as many as 18 before storming back to win. So why couldn’t the Hawks do it again?
“There’s no quit,” Atlanta coach Nate McMillan said after his team’s 109-106 win in Philadelphia. “We always talk about playing a 48-minute game. It’s a long game. And it took all 48 minutes tonight to get it done.”
And as they did in Game 4, the Hawks stormed back for an improbable comeback and took a 3-2 lead with Game 6 scheduled for Friday at home.
Just how improbable was the victory? According to ESPN Stats & Information research:
Philadelphia became the only team to lose back-to-back 18-point leads in playoff games in the past 25 seasons.
The 22-point halftime deficit the Hawks overcame was the third-largest halftime comeback in NBA postseason history.