By: Kylan Watson
Entering the back-end of a back-to-back, a team can do one of two things assert themselves in the early stages of the next contest. To let it be known to their opponent that it will not be their night, or fold like cheap toiletries. The Philadelphia 76ers faced their rivals the Atlanta Hawks for the third time in 18 days. It took them awhile to get going but they were able to outexecute Atlanta and get the come from behind victory 104-101. Their win streak now stands at three games.
The Hawks jumped on the Sixers early in the game, before they could even settle down the Hawks took advantage of their athleticism and younger legs. They were making their shots and forcing the issue by attacking the paint. That aggressiveness got Philly’s defenders in early foul trouble and that pushed their lead to 12-points early in the second quarter. Atlanta was led by the trio of Trae Young (18-points), Dejounte Murray (17-points), and Philly’s own De’Andre Hunter (18-points), they combined for 53 of Atlanta’s 101 points. There was nothing the Sixers defensive unit could do to stop them they attacked the basket. If they stopped them from attacking the paint they would pull-up from the three-point line. The Sixers finally had a matchup where they were the bigger team. They were able to keep throwing longer defenders at the trio and that forced them to miss their shots and to turn the ball over. That allowed the Sixers to take the lead late in the fourth quarter and never look back.
The Sixers also got their big-man back as today’s contest marked the return of Joel Embiid. He made his presence felt during Philly’s comeback attempt. As he scored 11 of his 30-points in the fourth quarter to put Philly back in front. It took him awhile to get going in this game clearly showing signs of missing two weeks of basketball thanks to a mid-foot sprain. However, when the Sixers needed him he came through by hitting his shots late in the game and swatting away an alley-oop attempt to keep Philly ahead. The defensive attention Embiid attracted also allowed Tobias Harris (24-points) and Shake Milton (21-points) to continue their impressive scoring streaks as both scored 20-plus points.
Also the ball continued to move tonight which helped the Sixers get high-percentage shots. That will continue to be pivotal for them as they prepare to start a tough stretch on the road this week. Which sees them facing the Cleveland Cavaliers on Wednesday night, and taking a trip to Memphis to see the Grizzlies on Friday night. Additionally, to have a chance in both of these contests Philly will need to turn up their perimeter defensive intensity. To hold the powerful back-court duos of the Cavaliers and Grizzlies to one opportunity on the offensive end. If they want to extend their win streak.