76ers travel to Atlanta hoping to take 2-1 series lead
After a nice two-day break, the 76ers return to action tonight, traveling to Atlanta to face the Hawks in Game Three of the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals. Philly is coming off a dominant 118-102 win on Tuesday and is hoping to take a 2-1 series lead while on the road. Playing on the road might create some new problems for the 76ers, but it shouldn’t be anything that Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons, and the rest of the 76ers can’t handle.
During Game Two, the 76ers adjusted their defensive rotations on Trae Young and shut him down almost completely. Ben Simmons and Matisse Thybulle limited Trae to 21 points on 37% shooting while only making one of his seven attempts from the three-point line.
Outside of Young, the Hawks’ only source of offense came from Kevin Huerter and Danilo Gallinari off the bench. While Philadelphia is almost certain to run the same defensive matchup, it will be interesting to see if Trae performs better in front of his home crowd. Atlanta won’t be getting any more help this postseason after forward De’Andre Hunter was ruled out for the remainder of the season with a torn Meniscus on Wednesday.
Joel Embiid is once again listed as questionable, which doesn’t come as a shock since he has been listed questionable for every game this series. The last two games have been historic for Joel, torching Atlanta for a playoff career-high 40 points the other night. Hawks coach Nate McMillian has attempted everything to try and slow down Joel, but nothing has worked at all, no matter what they try.
The critical piece to this 76ers offense will be the production of guard Seth Curry. Curry has been on a tear during the playoffs, and his offense has been instrumental in numerous 76ers wins this postseason. During Game Two, he put up 21 points while making five threes. Alongside Seth, it’s possible the Hawks could target the hack-a-Ben strategy with Simmons being ice-cold from the free-throw line. While his defense has been significant during this series, Ben, without a doubt, needs to work on his foul shots before it gets worse.
Off the bench, Shake Milton will likely get the nod over Tyrese Maxey after his bounce-back performance the other night. One of the major issues against both Washington and Atlanta has been Philadelphia’s bench production. But, if Shake returns to where he was during the regular season, that could solve that issue quickly.
This game is likely to be close because of the Atlanta crowd and Trae Young likely bouncing back somewhat from his Game Two performance. Regardless, this is the 76ers game to lose.
|Philadelphia 76ers||-1.5 (-112)||-120||O 223.5 (-112)|
|Atlanta Hawks||+1.5 (-108)||+102||U 223.5 (-118)|
Joel Embiid is unstoppable, and everything is going right for the 76ers at the perfect time between their defense, perimeter shooting, and bench production. Tip-off is set for 7:30 tonight on ESPN.
Mandatory Credit: Matt Slocum AP Photo