Five takeaways from the Sixers Game 3 win in Atlanta
1.) The Sixers Bench finally stepped up
Early in the series, one of the biggest issues was the strong bench play from the Hawks and the lack of any play from the Sixers bench. The scoring had to come early, as four minutes into the game, Danny Green left with an injury forcing Doc to go to the bench. In that first quarter, Furkan Korkmaz’s nine points helped the Sixers bench outscore the Hawks bench 17-6. Philly would end the quarter up eight, despite losing Danny Green for what would be the rest of the game.
The Sixers would push the lead further, with a ton of help from even more rotational guys. Korkmaz ended the game with a solid 14 points, and Dwight Howard ended the contest with 12 of his own with a couple of offensive rebounds. In the end, the Sixers bench would outscore the Hawks bench 49-to-32 on route to a 16-point Sixer win. If guys can continue to step up off the bench, especially with Danny Green sidelined, this series may be over before anyone knows it.
2.) Danny Green’s injury
The Sixers’ luck with injuries in the playoffs was bound to run out at some point, and on Friday, the victim forced to pay that toll was Danny Green. Green left the game just four minutes into the contest with what was reported as a calf injury. By the next quarter, Danny was officially ruled out for the rest of the game and was later spotted in streetwear with a boot on his right foot. Despite many individuals using no logical evidence to claim he was okay, news broke early Saturday confirming the injury.
Danny Green will be out a good 2-3 weeks with a right calf strain. With that timetable, the only way Green suits up for another Sixers game this season is if Philly makes the NBA Finals set to start on July 8th. While Green was struggling this post-season with his shot, there is no denying that losing a guy who’s hit some big-time shots on the way to three NBA championships hurts. As the Sixers advance, I expect either Furkan Korkmaz or Matisse Thybulle to start in place of Green, and that will completely depend on if Doc wants more offense or defense to start games.
3.) The free throw issues are getting ridiculous
I honestly hate having to bring this up repeatedly, but each week the Sixers free throw shooting gets more problematic. First, it was just Ben Simmons struggling from the line, then Joel began missing a few more than we’re accustomed to, and now guys who finished the regular season near 90 percent from the charity stripe are missing more than they’re making.
The Sixers missed 14 shots from the stripe, putting them at 64 percent from the free-throw line for the game. Ben missed half of his shots, Joel missed four of his own (granted, he shot 16 of them), and Tobias Harris only made one of three attempts. A couple of bench guys also struggled from the line, but the funniest thing is one of the best free-throw shooters on the night for Philly, Dwight Howard, went 4-of-5. Regardless, like I keep saying repeatedly, the Sixers need to fix these issues from the stripe if they truly want to reach the NBA Finals. That’s it, nothing else to say here.
4.) Joel Embiid is not human
It has been a minute since I talked about the runner-up for MVP, and his performance in game three gave me a good reason to. Embiid, who is still dealing with a slight meniscus tear, put out a line of 27 points, 9 rebounds, and 8 assists. The man nearly had a 30-point triple-double, on the road, with a suspect knee. Keep in mind, Joel led the team in all three of those categories for the game as well.
He put 34 solid minutes in and still finished with a plus/minus of 16. There is no denying that Embiid is on a mission this season, and the only thing on his mind is that Larry O’Brien trophy. Please take this as a reminder that we are all witnessing true greatness from the best center in the NBA.
5.) Hawks fans showed their true colors on Friday
This isn’t a game-related topic but I couldn’t not address the actions of the Hawks fans in game three. After Philly sports fans were drug through the mud because of the actions of one man and some popcorn, it is safe to say I’m a little on edge when it comes to fan reactions/interactions. So when my heart stopped as Embiid went to the ground grabbing his knee late in game three, and all I could hear was cheering, I was livid.
This obviously isn’t the first time something like this had happened in the NBA, as we all can recall the Raptors fans cheering when Kevin Durant tore his Achilles in the 2019 NBA Finals. With all the foolish fan decisions of the first round, I find it completely disgusting that Hawks fans decided to cheer for an injury with all that’s gone on. The worst part is, it’ll probably fade into irrelevance because nobody really cares what Hawks fans do, but I know that I won’t forget about it for a long time.
Mandatory Credit: AP Photo | John Bazemore