After splitting the first two games in Philadelphia, the series between the 76ers and Hawks now shifts to Atlanta for Games 3 and 4. The Hawks jumped all over the Sixers in the first half of Game 1, and ultimately hung on for a win, but the last six quarters of the series have favored Philadelphia. The Sixers have outscored the Hawks by 32 points during those periods as they appear to have put that slow start from the first game behind them. Joel Embiid has been an absolute beast in the series, as he scored 79 points and grabbed 22 rebounds over the first two games.
The Hawks don't seem to have an answer for Embiid on the defensive end, so they're probably going to have to try to simply outscore the Sixers moving forward. Atlanta's offensive attack obviously starts with Trae Young, who had 35 points in Game 1, but just 21 in Game 2 as the Sixers made some solid defensive adjustments. Both teams will be eager to secure a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series, so Game 3 promises to be pretty exciting. Here's everything you need to know about it.
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(1) Philadelphia 76ers vs. (5) Atlanta Hawks
- Date: Friday, June 11 | Time: 7:30 p.m. ET
- Location: State Farm Arena -- Atlanta, Georgia
- TV: ESPN | Live stream: fuboTV (Try for free)
- Odds: PHL -125; ATL +105 | O/U: 224.5 (via William Hill Sportsbook)
76ers: The Sixers may have found a winning formula for guarding Trae Young in Game 2. Not only did they use Ben Simmons and Matisse Thybulle as the primary defenders on him instead of Danny Green, they also had their help defenders play higher up on him in pick-and-roll scenarios. This resulted in less open air space for Young, which in turn resulted in tougher shots and narrower passing lanes. Young was much less efficient in Game 2 than he was in Game 1, and that was key to Philly winning. Look for them to continue to utilize Simmons and Thybulle on Young moving forward in the series. If they can continue to play him as well as they did in the second game, that will give the Sixers an advantage.
Hawks: Finding a way to somewhat slow down Embiid's production is the top task facing the Hawks at this point in the series. Embiid has gotten the best of every player that they've put on him, and when they've sent double teams, he's been able to kick the ball out to his shooters. There's no easy answer for Atlanta here. Embiid is just that good and puts that much pressure on opposing defenses. There's a reason he finished second in MVP voting. How to defend the dominant big man is a dilemma, for sure, but the Hawks have to try to mix things up, because if Embiid continues to average nearly 40 points against them, the series might not last too long.
In Game 2, the Sixers showed that they at least have some sort of answer for Trae Young on the defensive end, as the combination of Ben Simmons and Matisse Thybulle did a solid job on Young, limiting him to just 21 points on 6 of 16 shooting from the floor. That's a recipe that they can follow moving forward. The Hawks, on the other hand, haven't demonstrated that they have any way to slow down Embiid, who set his postseason career high twice in this series already. Moving forward, the fact that Atlanta doesn't have an answer for Embiid should give the Sixers an advantage. Pick: 76ers -1.5