By: Kylan Watson
The Philadelphia 76ers were playing for their season as they faced an elimination game against a confident Atlanta Hawks squad. They were outmatched early on. However, Philly was able to ride a strong offensive surge to beat the Hawks and force a game 7 in Philly on Sunday night.
It did not look good to start the game for the Sixers. Atlanta was hitting everything, and it did not matter if the shots were contested or wide-open. Trae Young had a strong start to the night he scored 34-points. He had it working on the offensive side he hit a couple of three-pointers from the Hawks logo and got forward Tobias Harris and guard/forward Ben Simmons in early foul trouble.
They had the Sixers on the ropes but in stepped rookie guard Tyrese Maxey and guard/forward Matisse Thybulle to rescue Philly. They both inserted some energy to a lethargic starting unit. Thybulle got two early steals which led to two Curry three-pointers. That cut the early Hawks lead to six. The Hawks had nothing for the speed of Maxey. He was able to get passed their defenders all game. Nobody could keep up with him he scored 16-points and the pressure of the game did not get to him. Why Coach Rivers did not insert him in the previous games is anybody’s guess, but he made his coach look like a genius tonight. His play brought the Sixers back and cut the Hawks lead to four-points by half-time.
On Maxey’s performance, “He’s ready, Tyrese is ready… he keeps working, he keeps watching film with Sam, and I know everybody is going to give him shine for offense, but I thought this was the single best defensive night for him,” said Sixers Head Coach Doc Rivers.
He had help too as Seth Curry came alive in the second and third quarters. He was able to hit some timely three-pointers and led a 12-0 scoring run in the third quarter, that allowed the Sixers to take the lead. He scored 24-points and picked up for a clearly tired center Joel Embiid. Who did not have it tonight. However, he was able to hit some timely shots late in the game. He scored 22-points and had two blocks.
Despite the scoring of Curry, Maxey, and Embiid. The Hawks came roaring back late in the game thanks to a late Young three-pointer. When it looked like Philly might blow another lead Harris had the answer. He hit a late lay-up and some clutch free-throws to ice the game for Philly. There was a lot of talk about Harris’ disappearing act in game 6, but he responded tonight. He scored 24-points and did not play scared he attacked the outmatched Atlanta defenders. Philly will need his scoring and playmaking as the series shifts back to Philadelphia. They will need all hands-on deck to deal with Atlanta on Sunday night.
On the mentality heading into game 7, “We’re a confident team. We know we can beat this team and we just gotta go out and do it,” said Simmons.