5 Keys to a Sixers Win in a Crucial Game-Five at Home
Limit Trae Young
Look, I understand this is a tall task, but the evidence speaks for itself here. As much as Sixers and Knicks fans hate him right now, Trae Young is a dynamic offensive threat with the ball. In all but one game this series Trae Young has recorded double-digit assists, including a career-high 18 assists in game four. He’s also averaging 27.5 PPG in the series, despite very inefficient shooting. We all need to accept that Trae Young is going to score around 20 points every game, but where the Sixers can limit him lies with his passing. The Hawks are a team filled with young, great shooting threats.
However, none of them are great facilitators. For perspective, in the Hawks’ game four win the team had 24 total assists in the game. Trae Young accounted for 18 of those. The offense lives and dies by Trae Young’s hands. If you force him to take a bunch of shots instead of his shooters and playmakers, the game becomes much easier. That is what worked so well for the Sixers in game two. Trae Young took 16 shots and only hit six of them, including shooting 1-for-7 from deep. Ben certainly has a tall-task ahead of him, but if he can force Young into shooting more outside shots and live with the occasional ones he hits, Philly’s chances of winning skyrocket.
Joel Needs a Big Bounce-Back Game.
There’s no beating around the bush here, Joel Embiid isn’t 100-percent. His knee is limiting his ability on the court, and it showed in what was his worst post-season game on Monday. However, if Joel is going to keep going out onto the court, I expect a rebound game from him tonight. Knowing how much this run means to the fans, who will pack Wells Fargo Center to the brim tonight, Embiid is going to put it all on the court tonight. While it isn’t hard to rebound from a game you shot 0-12 in the second half alone, I expect much more from the runner-up MVP. He’s going to have all of Philly behind him, and I’m positive the heinous comments from Clint Capela on his ability already lit a fire under him.
Doc’s Defensive Adjustments Need to Shine.
Losing a player like Danny Green doesn’t just hurt your three-point shooting, it creates defensive matchup issues too. So far Doc River’s adjustments in game four have worked. With Green out, Seth Curry has slid over to guard the Hawks’ most potent offensive threat outside of Young. With the Hawks switching Kevin Huerter into the starting lineup over Solomon Hill, that means Furkan Korkmaz matches up against a mucher better shooter in Huerter.
So far the matchup has worked well, with Bogandovic and Huerter shooting an abysmal 13-for-34 from the field. Curry specifically put in a ton of work limiting Bogdanovic from three, as he only knocked down 4-of-13 shots from deep. While a one game sample size isn’t enough to truly judge these defensive changes from Doc, if Curry and Korkmaz can continue to be a thorn in the sides of Atlanta’s two best shooters, the Sixers will be in great shape tonight.
Just Win Baby.
This is is very self-explanatory, but the importance of a game five in any series is backed by statistics. In every single series that has gone to a game five with the score an even 2-2, the team that wins game five has taken the series nearly 83-percent of the time. To be even more specific, that is an 164-34 record for the team that takes game five with an even series. Outside of the obvious math supporting it, a championship-caliber team does not lose twice on their home-court in the second round.
The teams that have looked the strongest this post-season, the Suns and the Nets (before two of their stars got injured), haven’t lost more than one game on home turf. With the recent rash of injuries and questionable COVID protocols, the playoffs have only become more wide-open for any team. If Philly wants to prove to us and NBA fans all across the country this year’s squad is different, they win tonight in front of a sold-out crowd.
Mandatory Credit: David Dow.