Mar 13, 2022; Orlando, Florida, USA; Philadelphia 76ers guard James Harden (1) reacts from the court during the overtime period against the Orlando Magic at Amway Center. Mandatory Credit: Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

Blowing a 3-2 series lead to a hated rival is a special kind of Hell, one you wouldn’t wish on your enemy. What made Sunday so much worse for the long-suffering Philadelphia 76ers was how disastrous they performed when the lights shined brightest, shrinking like a frightened turtle amid a flurry of Jayson Tatum three-pointers, each long-range dagger more demoralizing than the last.

There’s a certain hopelessness in losing, though, as the 76ers would learn Sunday, hiding from it only makes things worse. After tweeting up a storm with the game up for grabs in the first half, the Sixers’ social media presence all but disappeared as the outcome became clearer, going dark before finally resurfacing with a “Thank You” graphic Monday morning, acknowledging all their fans that supported them throughout the season.

Admittedly, it’s much easier to tweet when you’re ahead, which obviously wasn’t the case Sunday with Boston’s lead at one point swelling to 30, humiliating the Sixers with as emphatic a second half as you’re likely to see in these playoffs. Still, it’s not a great look to hide under a rock for the better part of 24 hours, a seeming state of denial that, predictably, opened up the 76ers and their social media staff to widespread criticism.

Sunday’s debacle was reminiscent of similar vanishing acts performed by the Texas Rangers and Georgia Football, taking a convenient “break” from tweeting amid painful losses to the San Diego Padres and South Carolina, respectively.

Though it’s unlikely to be framed that way, it’s a small miracle the Sixers made it as far as they did, scaring the Celts straight after taking their eye off the ball in Games 1, 4 and especially Game 5, an embarrassing rout that would serve as a much-needed reality check ahead of their Conference Finals rematch with Miami. The Celtics were, by all accounts, the more talented and complete team, a seasoned bunch molded by previous playoff disappointments including last year’s Finals loss to Golden State.

Of course, that’s of little solace to a team and fanbase facing an uncertain future with questions surrounding Doc Rivers’ job security as well as James Harden’s looming free agency. Like the tragic Greek figure Sisyphus, the Process Era Sixers seem destined to keep pushing the boulder up the hill, only to have it roll back to the bottom and continue the futile exercise for all eternity.

About Jesse Pantuosco

Jesse Pantuosco joined Awful Announcing as a contributing writer in May 2023. He’s also written for Audacy and NBC Sports. A graduate of Syracuse’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications with a master’s degree in creative writing from Fairfield University, Pantuosco has won three Fantasy Sports Writers Association Awards. He lives in West Hartford, Connecticut and never misses a Red Sox, Celtics or Patriots game.