Game three in the second-round series between the Philadelphia 76ers and the Atlanta Hawks featured Joel Embiid drawing his fair share of fouls, which continually drew the ire of the sold-out State Farm Arena crowd. However, he’d continue to dominate in the painted area, as the Sixers would pull away from Atlanta 127-111, to take a 2-1 lead in the best of seven series.
Embiid would finish with 27 points, 9 rebounds, 8 assists, and three blocks.
“We have to have a concerted team effort to slow him down,” said Hawks forward John Collins of Embiid’s skill. “They want to feature him and we have to slow him down as much as we can.”
The Hawks attempted to slow him down, but the others for Philly came to the playoff party. Tobias Harris was a matchup nightmare, he poured in 22 points. Additionally, Ben Simmons had 18 points, seven assists, and four rebounds.
“Working with Tobias, he’s been a great fit for us, said Simmons. “So when all three of us are in sync, it’s tough for the opposition.”
Philadelphia started the third quarter on a 19-6 run. The Sixers were able to get out in transition and used their speed and size to outmuscle the Hawks.
“Taking advantage of the mismatches,” said Harris while describing the third quarter. “They have a versatile group defensively. But he can back his way in and get to the cup. He [Ben] used that aggressiveness in the 3rd quarter, and I think he did a great job tonight.”
Trae Young had 28 points and eight assists. However, Philly kept Simmons, Furkan Korkmaz, Tyrese Maxey, and Matisse Thybulle on Young, in an attempt to slow down the Hawks’ primary ball-handler.
“I tried to push the pace, find my guys, get to the lane, get into a rhythm,” said Simmons. “Young’s confidence has [always] been there. He’s a great, smart young player and I look forward to guarding the best player every night.”
Meanwhile, the Hawks are searching for answers ahead of Game 4 Monday night. After Atlanta almost blew their 26 point lead in Game 1, the Hawks’ struggles from three-point range have continued. Atlanta shot 11-for-30 from the three-point range in Game 2′s 118-102 loss (36.7%) and were 6-for-23 (26.1%) in tonight’s loss to the Sixers.
“I’ll go back and watch the film, see what I could’ve done better, see what I could do more for my team,” Trae Young said. “I gotta help my teammates out. We have to get back to the drawing board and figure out a way to win game four.”
The Hawks had 15 assists on 39 made shots. Conversely, Philadelphia had 28 assists on 46 made baskets.
“We let them get downhill and get to their game,” Collins said. “We didn’t do our job, they got their shots and we can’t let that happen in a playoff game. It’s about us locking in and competing harder and smarter.”