Sixers get torched in the first half, lose game one to the Hawks 128-124
The atmosphere was electric to kickoff a jam packed Sunday in South Philadelphia. The Sixers opened up the second round of the NBA Playoffs against the Atlanta Hawks, as the game started with Triple H and Joel Embiid ringing the bell in front of a sold out crowd at the Wells Fargo Center.
Embiid entered from the tunnel with a sledgehammer and it was an all out WWE event that had the WFC rocking before tip-off. The energy, of course, all changed once the game started, as the Hawks stole game one on the road, 128-124.
The Sixers couldn’t overcome a terrible first half performance and fell short of mounting an amazing comeback. However, there’s hardly a reason to panic. Everything that could have gone wrong in this game happened, the majority of which all took place in the first half.
The Sixers missed 11 free throws. They turned the ball over 19 times. They were 10-for-29 from three point range. The Hawks hit a franchise record 20 three pointers in a playoff game, while shooting 50% from beyond the arc in the first half. They shot 50% from the floor and over 40% from three on the game.
Atlanta took a 42-27 lead after the first quarter by shooting 16-for-22 from the floor and 6-for-12 from three point range. When you let up 42 points in the first quarter, it’s hard to win basketball games.
Turnovers killed the Sixers in the first quarter. They committed 12 turnovers within the first 14 minutes of the game. Those turnovers led to 16 points for the Atlanta Hawks, and the Hawks were able to extend their lead to 20 points early in the second quarter.
Trae Young put on a show in the first half, scoring 25 of his 35 points in the game. Young and the Hawks were all over the Sixers from the jump, making 14 of their first 18 shots from the floor. At one point in the first half, the Hawks went on a 17-0 run while Doc Rivers, again, opted to use an all bench lineup for long periods during the game.
Danny Green simply could not defend Trae Young. Rivers finally switched to Ben Simmons in the second half. Simmons locked down Trae Young for a short period of time, but the Sixers were forced to move Simmons back off Young thanks to two quick “fouls” in the third. During his post game press conference Simmons was asked about defending Young and had this to say:
Matisse Thybulle was on Young for the majority of the second half and defended him well. The Sixers used a full court press and a half court trap to work themselves back into the game in the second half and really, just ran out of time to pull off a comeback win. The second half was a completely different game. The Sixers outscored the Hawks 70-54 and Trae Young only scored 10 points. Too many mistakes in the first half lost this game for the Sixers.
Joel Embiid finished with 39 points, nine rebounds, four assists, and three blocks. Tobias Harris added 20 points and 10 rebounds, while Ben Simmons finished with 17 points, four rebounds, 10 assists, four steals, and one block.
The +/- for the Sixers starters tells the story. The bench was horrendous. I’m confident that the Sixers and Doc Rivers will make the necessary adjustments and focus on what they did well in the second half against the Hawks in game one for game two on Tuesday night.
Not ideal dropping the first game at home, obviously, but the second half eased any fears after a terrible first half. There is no doubt in my mind that we’ll get them game two.
Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY