They ended the Hawks’ 13-game winning streak at State Farm Arena on Friday night with a 127-111 victory, taking a 2-1 lead in their second-round playoff series.
Joel Embiid was once again special. He had 27 points on 7-for-14 shots, nine rebounds, eight assists and three blocks.
Ben Simmons recorded 18 points and seven assists, while Tobias Harris had 22 points and eight rebounds.
Game 4 takes place Monday night in Atlanta. Below are three observations on the Sixers’ victory in Game 3:
Embiid excellent despite fear of injury
The Hawks sent harder, more consistent doubles to Embiid, helping out from the baseline and assaulting him on almost every touch. Atlanta was not opposed to the occasional triple team. This approach seemed inevitable after Embiid’s 79 points in the first two games of the series.
Embiid didn’t have many clear scoring opportunities besides capitalizing when the Hawks’ defense was overzealous and shooting free throws. He stayed in balance and made smart decisions, committing only one turnover.
“They are not going to leave me alone,” Embiid said. “They will come as soon as the ball is in the air towards me. It means that one of my teammates is open. … In these situations, I do not rush any more. I’m just trying to make the best game I can. And while I have to shoot a shot for myself, there are so many ways to do it, even being on a double team, and I feel extremely confident shooting on double teams. “
For the series, Embiid scored 106 points on 60 field goal attempts. His ability to rack up free throws is priceless.
Embiid grabbed his left knee and jumped up and down after rebounding early in the third quarter. He stayed in the game, even though he appeared to wince after an alley-oop dunk a few minutes later. Embiid was also on the pitch longer than usual after falling in the fourth quarter.
Harris also had an ominous moment, banging his head against a camera on the field after a fourth quarter practice. He didn’t miss any action.
Before every game in this series, Embiid has been listed as questionable due to the small lateral meniscus tear in his right knee. The reality of the situation for the Sixers is that their run in the playoffs is somewhat tenuous because the health of their All-Star center is compromised, and also because he is a great man who gives maximum effort to the. two ends of the field without worrying about the long term. The Sixers might as well enjoy it while he plays in pain.
“It’s difficult,” Embiid said. “There’s really no difference between the first two games and tonight. I rolled my ankle a bit and landed on my back. But when it comes to the knee, the torn meniscus, it’s not easy. I just have to keep going, do my best as much as I can, and give it my all. In terms of getting ready to play basketball, it’s tough, but it’s my job. I have to get a lot of treatments, I have to lift, I have to do whatever is necessary to make this happen.
Embiid’s pick-and-roll coverage was exceptional. He’s the rare 7-footer with the agility and instinct to mix everything up, which allowed the Sixers to disrupt Trae Young’s pace.
Sixers bypass Green’s early exit
Danny Green limped off the pitch with 8:15 left in the first quarter and was replaced by Matisse Thybulle. The 33-year-old has been ruled out due to a strained right calf.
Thybulle played a decent defense early on for Young despite conceding five points, putting him well over the three-point line and limiting his chances of reaching the paint. He also picked up two characteristic quick interceptions.
However, he was called up for his second foul at the end of the first period for hitting Danilo Gallinari. Unfortunately for the Sixers, Thybulle couldn’t escape trouble. He fouled with 3:23 remaining after playing 17 minutes.
It’s not pleasant to watch unless you’re a Hawks fan, but Young is very good at stopping abruptly, leaning into defenders, sprucing up contact, and doing whatever it takes to fire whistles. The bottom line is that the Sixers need to adapt to his game and as much as possible avoid anything that might look like a foul.
Simmons continued to be the Sixers’ main defenseman against Young, who had 28 points and eight assists. Bogdan Bogdanovic scored Atlanta’s first seven points and finished with 19.
Simmons was the top of the elite defensively, pushing the pace, setting the tone in the third quarter. The Sixers scored their first eight field goals of the second half, with Simmons scoring on three and assisting on three.
“We just thought he missed too many opportunities – in the quick break, at the post,” Sixers head coach Doc Rivers said of Simmons’ first half. post, and be aggressive. I always think when you start him passing over the post he gets aggressive in the game. He’s been great for us. This is exactly what we need. With his pace and power, it was great. “
Whether Simmons’ offensive weaknesses will hurt the Sixers down the line always seems to be a popular topic, but it should be recognized that he has plenty of offensive strengths as well. For now, he’s helping the Sixers win the playoff games.
The Sixers bench made a 180
Thybulle, Korkmaz, George Hill and Shake Milton were the first four players to leave the Sixers bench. Embiid was the last Sixers starter to come out. Harris and Embiid were the two starters to play the most with the Sixers’ second unit, and both had nice stretches in that role.
Rivers feels that Korkmaz could contribute after a difficult Game 2 performance that turned out to be perfect. Korkmaz scored 11 points in his first stint. Meanwhile, Kevin Huerter made his third foul early in the second quarter and only managed three points after scoring 20 on Tuesday night.
Incredibly, the Sixers scored the first 12 bench points of the game after the Hawks’ second unit had a 32-0 advantage over the Sixers at half-time in Game 2.
There is always a random element and unpredictable variance between playoff games, as we’ve seen in this series. While it certainly doesn’t hurt the Sixers to know exactly what they’re getting from their bench in every game, Milton and Korkmaz stepping up the last two games has also worked. Milton followed his 14 pivot points in Game 2 with six 2-on-3 shots in 21 minutes.
“Sometimes the opportunity presents itself and you have to be prepared,” Korkmaz said. “There won’t be a second chance and you just need to step up. A Shake game, a me game, a Tyrese game (Maxey). Every day the name changes but the mindset is the same, stay prepared and try to seize the opportunity.
Dwight Howard was good offensively, physically beating Onyeka Okongwu, John Collins and Atlanta by 12 points on 4-5 shots and six rebounds. The Sixers bench had a 48-32 advantage over Atlanta’s.