76ers Eager to Respond in Game 2 vs. Hawks
The 76ers certainly showed some fight down the stretch in Sunday afternoon’s Game 1 against the Atlanta Hawks.
In the end, the Sixers fell just short of a remarkable comeback in a game they trailed by 26 points midway through the second quarter.
The Sixers outscored the Hawks, 70-54, in the second half and held the visitors to just 18-for-45 (.400) shooting over the game’s final two quarters.
“I thought we started [the second half] with a better sense of urgency,” Doc Rivers said. “We changed a couple of things on [Trae] Young. But more importantly, we took care of the darn ball. If someone looked at the stats and said ‘wow, the Sixers shot 55 percent and the Hawks shot 51 percent, and the Sixers lost,’ you’re going to go to a number. And the numbers are turnovers. That was the difference.”
Twelve of the Sixers’ 19 turnovers came in the first 14 minutes of the game.
But a 41-29 fourth quarter in favor of the home team electrified the nearly 19,000 fans in attendance. If the Sixers simply ran out of time in Game 1, they’ll get more of it on Tuesday in the same setting.
The frenzied finish showed what a more complete performance from the No. 1 seed could look like in these Eastern Conference Semifinals.
“They hit us hard at the beginning, so now it’s on us to respond,” said Joel Embiid.
Embiid posted 39 points, nine rebounds, four assists, one steal and three blocks in 38 minutes.
— brianseltzer (@brianseltzer) June 6, 2021
Seth Curry joined Embiid for a postgame interview and said there are positives that can carry over into the next game.
“Our energy, making them turn the ball over,” said Curry. “Playing with that pace and then getting good shots offensively off that. We’ve always been a defensive team throughout the year and we know when we get stops, we’re really tough to beat.”
Embiid nodded in agreement throughout Curry’s entire response.
Tobias Harris’ steal and driving layup with just about 30 seconds left was the second of three baskets scored by the Sixers in the final 1:01 that cut the deficit to one possession.
“It just shows -- that when we’re out there playing as hard as we can -- how good we are,” Harris said. “And we need that from the start of Game 2 and in all the games going forward. Just that mentality not to let our guard down throughout this whole series.”
126-124, Atlanta, after a Danny Green steal and Ben Simmons dunk with 10.5 seconds left was the closest the Sixers got during their breathtaking final push.
“At one point we were down 26, and we still were in the game. That tells you a lot about this team and what we’re capable of doing,” said Simmons. “We never want to do that again, obviously. We’ve got to start the right way.”
Simmons finished with 17 points, 10 assists, four steals and a block on a perfect 7-for-7 shooting from the floor. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Simmons is the first 76er ever to post 10 points and 10 assists without missing a shot from the field in a playoff game.
Game 2 presents an opportunity for the 76ers to respond.
An opportunity to start the way they just finished.
“My goal is to win a championship,” Joel Embiid said. “I’m going to give everything I’ve got.”
Tuesday’s Game 2 between the 76ers and Hawks is a 7:30 p.m. start in Philadelphia.
Video: Philadelphia 76ers vs. Atlanta Hawks - Game 1 Highlights (06/06/2021)
Video: Seth Curry, Joel Embiid Postgame Media vs. Atlanta Hawks - Game 1 (06/06/2021)