Time to Get Even: 76ers-Hawks Game Two Preview, Odds, Predictions
After dropping game one due to careless mistakes and events outside of their control, the 76ers return to Wells Fargo to host the Atlanta Hawks in Game Two of the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals. Philly stormed back in the second half of Sunday’s loss, turning a 20+ point deficit into a 4 point loss. The 76ers need to clean up some mistakes and make a few adjustments defensively in order to even the series against a Hawks, which is something I have full confidence in them doing tonight at 7:30pm.
Doc Rivers has some significant adjustments that need to be made before tonight. The first is how he goes about guarding Hawks star Trae Young. During the first half of Game One, Danny Green was in charge of Trae Young but could not slow him down. Ben Simmons and Matisse Thybulle stepped up in the second half and did a tremendous job in containing Young, holding him to only 10 points after he scored 25 in the first.
The best route for the 76ers is to have both Matisse and Ben rotate in defending Trae Young the entire game and substitute Danny for short bursts if needed. Although he gets many whistles, it doesn’t seem likely that both Thybulle and Simmons will get in foul trouble. They shouldn’t. Elite defenders stay out of foul trouble and Matisse and Simmons both have something to prove tonight against Trae Young.
It’s important that the 76ers come out alive tonight in the first quarter. Atlanta took a 42-27 lead after one 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.
Alongside Trae, the 76ers will need to watch their turnovers after committing 19 on Sunday, nine of which came in the first quarter. A majority of those turnovers came from Doc’s all-bench lineup, which gave up the ball five times early and were responsible for of a 17-0 run by the Hawks in the first half. Doc will need to adjust his rotations to have at least one starter in at all times to avoid that disaster again. And with the way he talked about it earlier, it seems like he agrees.
When yesterday’s injury report was released, Joel Embiid was listed as questionable once again. Towards the end of Game One, Embiid took an awkward fall and winced a little afterward. It looked more to be soreness/swelling than injuring it further, and when asked, Joel said he needs to manage it and work on rest. If he played Game One, there shouldn’t be any reason why Joel can’t play tonight unless he injured it further. Over 38 minutes, Embiid had 39 points and three blocks the other day and will once again be a pivotal point for their offense.
|Trae Young||PG||Ben Simmons|
|Bogdan Bogdanovic||SG||Seth Curry|
|Solomon Hill||SF||Danny Green|
|John Collins||PF||Tobias Harris|
|Clint Capela||C||Joel Embiid|
Outside of Embiid, the 76ers’ starters looked fantastic on offense, with every player besides Danny Green shooting over 50% from the field. Ben Simmons flourished once again on offense with 17 points and ten assists, but he needs to fix his free throw shooting ASAP. The team as a whole missed 11 free throws, and seven of those came from Ben alone.
|Atlanta Hawks||+5 (-114)||+164||O 223 (-110)|
|Philadelphia 76ers||-5 (-105)||-196||U 223 (-110)|
Between an improved game plan and Atlanta hopefully returning to the mean from deep, this game shouldn’t be as much of a mess as Game One was. If Joel plays as he did during Game One, the 76ers should be able to knot up this series at one apiece before traveling to Atlanta for Game Three. Tip-off is slated for 7:30 tonight on TNT.
Mandatory Credit: AP Photo