3 observations: Trae Young, Hawks outlast Sixers to even the series
The Philadelphia 76ers were a little shorthanded heading into Monday’s Game 4 with the Atlanta Hawks as they were missing their veteran leader in Danny Green. They had to turn to a young guy in Furkan Korkmaz to take his place and they could have used Green’s presence in order to get this win.
The Sixers seemed to wilt a bit under the playoff pressure after building an 18-point lead and then seeing it disappear as Trae Young came alive for the Hawks. Young had 25 points and 18 assists as Atlanta was able to rally from multiple deficits and come away with a 103-100 win to even the series at 2-2. They could have used a steady veteran like Green in this one.
Tobias Harris had 20 points, Seth Curry added 17 points, Joel Embiid had a rare off night and had 17 points on 4-for-20 shooting with 21 rebounds, Korkmaz had 10, and Ben Simmons had 11, nine assists, and 12 rebounds. Shake Milton had eight points and Dwight Howard had seven and 10 boards off the bench.
Here are the observations following a big Game 4 loss for Philadelphia:
After being named to the All-Defensive Second Team before the game, Embiid made his presence known on that end to begin this one. Every time Young, Bogdanovic, or any other Hawk tried to score inside, the big fella made life tough on him. He started 0-for-4 from the floor, but he had nine rebounds, and his defensive presence allowed Philadelphia to take a 28-20 lead after one quarter.
Embiid did leave for the locker room after taking a hard fall, but he came out in the second quarter, and he looked like he was in better shape for a bit at least. The big fella splashed in a triple and he then completely backed down Clint Capela and he had a nice pass to Simmons for a layup on one play and on another possession, he spun away from the double and knocked down a jumper. However, he was not able to carry the same offensive success into the second half. He looked like he was hobbling a bit and he was frustrated with how his night was going. He shot 0-for-12 in the second half as he struggled to really find his rhythm.
The Sixers had 17 assists on 25 field goals in the first half and they shot 7-for-11 from deep. Those numbers normally go hand-in-hand for Philadelphia. When the ball is whipping around, and everybody is touching it, the Sixers will get open looks. Curry was a big recipient of all of that as he was able to get open triples galore in the first half to help the Sixers build their lead.
In the second half, the ball was not moving as much and that allowed the Hawks to creep back into the game. Curry did not even attempt a triple in the second half until late in the fourth quarter as the ball seemed to stick a bit more. When the ball is moving, Philadelphia succeeds. The game can be that simple at times. They get the opposition scrambling on that end, it leads to open looks, and then it comes down to just knocking down those shots.
A sign of a good bench unit is whether they can extend a lead and keep the momentum going. Outside of the disastrous Game 1 and the first half of Game 2, Philadelphia’s bench unit has done just that. The Sixers led by eight after one quarter and when coach Doc Rivers turned to his bench, they kept things going for the Sixers. Matisse Thybulle made plays on both ends of the floor, George Hill was solid, and Milton and Howard showed off their chemistry in the pick-and-roll game.
Thybulle, especially, was impressive as he did a very good job of defending Hawks big man Danilo Gallinari. This has been an ongoing development for Thybulle as he has been defending more power forwards ever since Hill came into the fold in late April. His versatility to play the 4 allows Hill to be on the floor as the 2-guard of the bench unit and it brings in more playmaking. Then, of course, Milton had himself a huge fourth quarter to keep the hard-charging Hawks at bay, for a little while at least.