By: Kylan Watson
The Philadelphia 76ers were looking to rebound after getting beat by the Atlanta Hawks on Sunday afternoon. They did more than rebound as they used an early and late game offensive explosion to stir-fry the Hawks 118-102 to tie the series at one as the series shifts to Atlanta.
Philly jumped on Atlanta early in the game as they punched them with an offensive explosion led by Tobias Harris who scored 12 of his 22-points within the first six minutes of the first quarter. He got what he wanted from the floor and took advantage of the overmatched and undersized Hawks’ defenders. He came out like he took it personally that Atlanta had the audacity to win on their home floor. It was not just him who got into scoring parade guard Seth Curry hit five threes and scored 21-points. He made Atlanta pay for double teaming center Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons. When they tried to run him off the three-point line he would attack the basket. The Hawks had no answer for Harris and Curry.
Atlanta was able to explode on the offensive side and erase an 18-point Philly lead. They were led by guards Bogdan Bogdanovic (21-points), Kevin Huerter (20-points), and forward Danilo Gallinari (21-points) who combined for 62-points. They powered a strong Atlanta attack that the Sixers bench just could not respond to. Philly had no answers early on for them and it did not matter who they put on them. They were hitting shots from everywhere.
The Sixers were able to do something they failed to do on Sunday afternoon stop Trae Young. He was held in check by guard/forward Ben Simmons who made it difficult for him to even get a shot off. He only hit six/16 shots for 21-points. Keeping him in check might have been the biggest adjustment Philly made in this game besides limiting turnovers.
When it looked like Philly was on the ropes and the Hawks were threatening to put the game away. Coach Rivers put his faith in guard Shake Milton, and he responded well. He hit a late game three-pointer to put the Sixers up by seven and then he exploded for 14-points. The Shakevival was on from there as he put the second unit on his back and put Atlanta away singlehandedly. He made a statement that he should get more minutes in this series if his shot is falling. Atlanta had no answers for him. When it was not him center Joel Embiid joined him scoring 40-points and grabbing 12-rebounds. He had a response every-time Atlanta would go on a run. He would hit a back-breaking mid-range jump shot with two hands in his face. He would find a teammate for a wide-open three-point shot. He did everything to give Philly the win.
On Shake’s performance, “I talked to Shake today. I said this is a long run, man. Shake came back last night, playing one-on-one at 10 o’clock at night. He gave us a huge lift. I’m very happy for him,” said 76ers Head Coach Doc Rivers.
As this series shifts to Atlanta, Philly will need to get another night of balanced scoring and sensational perimeter defense like they played tonight. They will also need to get guard/forward Ben Simmons and the bench going as well. Simmons had a big night on the defensive side and a quiet night on offense. When Ben is involved on both sides of the ball, he unlocks the bench with his playmaking. Atlanta will head back to the drawing board and Philly will have two-days to find a way to keep their momentum going for game 3 on Friday night.