The Sixers took back home-field advantage after a convincing win over the Hawks led by MVP snub Joel “The Process” Embiid.
If the Sixers were going to go up 2-1 in this series, it was clear they would need to approach this game with the same level of intensity that led them to a Game Two victory. The team did a very good job of this in the first quarter, and, unlike in Game Two, the Sixers’ bench came alive early.
A Whole Different Sixers Bench
The Philadelphia 76ers’ bench looked alive. Not just alive, actually, but hungry. Furkan Korkmaz, in particular, was starving to the tune of 11 first-quarter points. It wasn’t all Korkmaz either; the Sixers’ bench finished the night with 46 points, a night and day performance from Game Two.
The importance of bench scoring is obvious. While rotations typically shorten in the postseason, Doc Rivers is a big believer in his team’s depth. 11 total players made their way to the court for Philly, while typical playoff rotations involve 8-9 players.
What is most impressive is that, by and large, the entire bench played well. In spot roles, Shake Milton, George Hill, and Matisse Thybulle all played well, and the entire bench effort was led by Dwight Howard and especially Furkan Korkmaz. The Sixers will their bench to keep it up, but it’s an encouraging sign, not just for the rest of this series, but potentially for the Eastern Conference Finals.
Injuries, The Unfortunate Sub-Plot
The bad in this game clearly came from the constant barrage of Sixers pulling up lame. Just four minutes into the game, Danny Green suffered a right calf strain, causing him to miss not only the rest of the game but potentially multiple games to come.
It wasn’t just Green who was visited by the injury bug, Joel Embiid and Tobias Harris both had their moments, but thankfully, both were able to get back up and continue leading the team to victory. What is perhaps more concerning than anything was the Atlanta Hawks fan reaction to Embiid’s injury.
Just a terrible lack of sportsmanship by the Hawks fan base. To cheer not once but twice because an opposing player is injured is something that, according to the national media, only happens in Philadelphia. It wasn’t even acknowledged by the broadcast team, but it was clearly present not just to those in attendance, but it also came through clear as day on the national broadcast.
It would hardly be surprising if this occurrence didn’t motivate the Sixers to send this Hawks team home where they belong. It certainly didn’t help shake the villain persona the Atlanta Hawks have donned.
The Sixers will stay in Atlanta for Game Four on Monday night. Tip-off is at 7:30(ish) PM EST, and you can catch the game live on TNT, or if you prefer, you can listen live as always at 97.5 FM The Fanatic.
Joel Embiid and the Sixers have a chance to break the Hawk’s will to continue in this game. They can’t slow, don’t know, they can’t let up; it’s time to send a message so they can close things out in Philly on Wednesday.