Hawks Hope Home Cooking Aids The Cause In Game 3
Joel Embiid will again be a game-time decision for Friday’s Game 3. Playing with a torn meniscus in your knee doesn’t sound pleasant and is an injury that has to be monitored intently. He’ll warm up again prior to this contest and barring any setbacks, is expected to play. After missing the end of the first-round series win over Washington, Philadelphia’s All-Star center has been a dominant force through the first two contests against the Hawks.
In Game 1’s loss, Embiid scored 39 points and was too much for Clint Capela, John Collins and rookie backup Onyeka Okongwu. He took 15 free throws, making 14. Embiid was even more dominant in Wednesday’s Game 2 win, pouring in 40 points while getting to the free-throw line for 16 attempts. Collins fouled out and Capela ended up with five personal fouls. The duo combined for just 18 points and was badly outplayed.
Getting back home isn’t going to help Atlanta overcome the huge disadvantage that Embiid puts them in, but the Hawks do have to hope that a venue change requiring getting on a plane will keep the 76ers’ 7-footer from getting as loose as he’s been able to in Philadelphia.
Bench play should also be a factor. After the starters were dominated early in Game 2 as the Hawks fell behind 23-6, reserves Danilo Gallinari, Kevin Huerter and Lou Williams helped turn the game around to the point that Atlanta trailed just 57-55 at the break. The 76ers then pulled away when Shake Milton caught fire late in the third quarter and into the fourth. Backup center Dwight Howard, rookie guard Tyrese Maxey, veteran George Hill and defensive specialist Matisse Thybulle all played key rolls in helping even the series, so it will be interesting to see whether they can have a similar impact on the road. The presumption is that bench mobs play better at home, so Atlanta should be able to get solid shooting from its reserves.
Full Hawks Sixers Odds At Major Sportsbooks
Young Looks For Bounce-Back Game On Friday Night
Although Trae Young ended up with team-highs of 21 points and 11 assists on Tuesday night, his impact was limited compared to how dominant he was in Sunday’s Game 1 upset. Ben Simmons started on him and made some nice plays due to his size advantage, and he wasn’t able to get into a rhythm by abusing Danny Green the way he did in the series opener. Thybulle blocked one of his patented floaters in a key fourth-quarter play and he typically always saw multiple defenders as the 76ers did a much better job shading coverage his way.
Hawks head coach Nate McMillan’s chief objective over the next few days is to decipher which of Doc Rivers’ defensive changes were most effective and provide some counters to help his point guard find more room to operate. There’s going to be no slowing down of Embiid, so matching firepower is going to be Atlanta’s best bet in order to pull off this series upset against the East’s top seed. Young could be seen nodding “we’re ok” after being pulled late in the fourth quarter with the outcome decided, and Atlanta certainly did get what it wanted in pulling off a split of the first two contests at Wells Fargo Arena.
Young finished with 35 points and 10 assists in the series opener and shot 4-for-11 from 3-point range. On Tuesday, he finished 1-for-7 from beyond the arc, which was one reason the final score of 118-102 stayed under the closing total of 225. Getting him in a better rhythm is likely to result in a higher-scoring game since Atlanta is the better shooting team between these East semi-finalists.
The fact the 76ers put the game out of reach with four minutes remaining also helped keep the game ‘under’ since garbage time wasn’t kind in terms of points due to missed free-throws and the final 35 seconds ran off with neither teams attempting to score. Expect the betting public to look to ride the high side again here, so don’t be surprised to see this total come in a point or two higher than Tuesday’s number of 225.
Philadelphia will probably be favored again, but it isn’t likely to be by more than a possession. Atlanta won both of its home games against the Knicks in the opening round, winning by double-digits each time. The Hawks have won their last three games as a home underdog, but haven’t been in that role since defeating the Phoenix Suns 135-103 on May 5.
The 76ers tied for the second-best road record (20-16) in the Eastern Conference during the regular season but lost in Atlanta 112-94 back on Jan. 11. Philadelphia split its first-round road dates against Washington but did post a blowout win in Game 3.