76ers Seek to Bounce Back in Game 2
After falling in Game 1 of the second round, the 76ers will look to get even with the Atlanta Hawks Tuesday in South Philadelphia.
Boasting elite defense throughout the regular season and first round of the playoffs, the Sixers are ready to return to their roots in Game 2, from the opening tip.
Following Game 1, Ben Simmons (17 pts, 4 reb, 10 ast, 4 stl) looked ahead, eager to thwart Trae Young’s (35 pts, 10 ast) momentum in Tuesday’s matchup.
“Obviously Trae is very talented,” Simmons said Sunday. “Lot of respect to him, but I’m looking to come in and see if I can be a little more physical next game.”
Fellow defensive powerhouse Matisse Thybulle echoed Simmons’ sentiments after Monday’s film session.
“[We’re] trying to up the physicality a little bit, create more pressure, put more pressure on the ball… Not let them get into anything easily, and asserting ourselves physically on the defensive end.”
And while Thybulle’s trademark defensive presence was felt in Game 1, it was his offensive impact - scoring a bench-high 10 points on 4-for-6 shooting and 2-for-4 shooting from deep - that left an impression on his head coach.
“I love that Matisse was aggressive,” Rivers said. “I love the fact that he shot every shot with courage.”
Rivers also gave Thybulle props for putting in significant extra on-court work in preparation for the Conference Semifinal series.
“I bet [Matisse] took more shots than anybody on our team in the last five days.”
For Thybulle, the extra shots yield extra confidence.
“When you know you’ve put in the work, when you’ve done the reps, you have something you can fall back on,” Thybulle said.
In order to bounce back, the Sixers will look to ride the momentum generated by their second half performance in Game 1 - cutting a 26-point deficit to two in the game’s final seconds, and out-scoring the Hawks, 41-29, in the fourth quarter.
“We’ve proved that we know what to do, and we know how to do it,” Thybulle said. “It’s just showing up and doing it from the jump. The second half was just showing what we’re really here to do, and what we’re really about.”
Danny Green will draw on his own playoff experience to stay cool while forging ahead.
“There’s still a lot left, we can turn this thing around,” Green said Monday. “We’re not in the position we want to be, but we’re okay - there’s still a lot of basketball to be played.”
Tuesday’s Game 2 tips at 7:30 p.m. ET.
The Hawks were humming offensively early in Game 1, taking a 42-27 lead out of the first quarter and extending that advantage as the first half continued.
Atlanta shot 63.4% from the field (26-41 fg) and 56.5% from deep (13-23 3fg) in the first half.
In the second half, however, the Hawks shot 40.0% from the field (18-45 fg) and 29.2% from long range (7-24 3fg).
John Collins and Bogdan Bogdanovic each poured in 21 points in Game 1, Clint Capela notched a 11-point, 10-rebound double-double, and Kevin Huerter led the Hawks’ bench unit with 15 points on 6-for-9 shooting.