By: Kylan Watson
The Philadelphia 76ers were riding high as they entered the second of a two-game match-up with the Atlanta Hawks. Philly was looking to dominate Atlanta like they did on Wednesday night. It took them awhile to get on track, but they used an offensive surge to destroy Atlanta once again 126-104.
Early on it did not look good for the Sixers. They could not hit anything from the opening tipoff. They hit 1/8 to start the first quarter. The Hawks came out hot hitting their first five shots. They were threatening to run away with the game. The Sixers were forced to call a timeout because Atlanta was outhustling and outplaying them, and they had no answers on either side of the ball.
The Hawks got guard Trae Young back and he made his presence felt. He scored 32-points and was doing everything he could to keep the Sixers down. Philly had no answers for him early in the game. They had to put guard/forward Danny Green on him to make it difficult on him. That slowed Young down a bit.
When Young went to the bench that’s when Philly was able to cut the deficit to three-points, by the end of the first quarter. Thanks to Ben Simmons waking up. He led a 19-5 scoring run to bring Philly back into the game. He scored 14 of his 18-points by half-time and he was a force on both sides of the ball. He got three steals and used his playmaking ability to get his teammates involved. His playmaking sparked the bench unit of the Sixers. They scored 57-points and it was their effort that got the Sixers back in the game.
On the play of Simmons since returning from illness, “Since he’s been back he’s been a tone-setter for us. He’s been amazing. I wouldn’t say this is the best he’s played all year, but it’s close,” said Sixers Head Coach Doc Rivers.
It was guard Shake Milton (13-points) and center Dwight Howard (19-points) who combined for 32-points off the bench. It was not just Howard and Milton who had a good game off the bench. Matisse Thybulle and his defensive prowess made it difficult on whoever he was assigned to guard. He got four steals and scored 10-points. His play continues to show that he deserves to be considered for an all-defensive team.
Philly was able to cook Atlanta once again and now they turn their attention to the San Antonio Spurs on Sunday night and the Chicago Bulls on Monday night. Philly will need another strong night on defense to hold down the backcourts of the Spurs and Bulls.