76ers Welcome Hawks for Game 1
It’s the top-seeded 76ers and the No. 5 seed, the Atlanta Hawks.
Let the games begin.
Both teams advanced with 4-1 series victories in the first round. The 76ers took care of the Wizards and the Hawks defeated the fourth-seeded New York Knicks.
But for 76ers head coach Doc Rivers, this journey goes beyond just another round.
“If your goal is to get out of the second round, how low are your goals?” Rivers said. “That’s not my goal. If that happens and that’s all you get, that’s not successful for me. Or hopefully our team. Hopefully our city. We want more. We want the entire cake. You have to put your heart on the line to do that.”
The Sixers won the regular season series with the Hawks, 2-1, but none of Ben Simmons, Tobias Harris, Seth Curry, Furkan Korkmaz, Shake Milton or Matisse Thybulle played in the lone Atlanta victory. Hawks’ star Trae Young missed the front end of the two-game set in late April. His teammates Bogdan Bogdanović, Kevin Huerter and De’Andre Hunter were out for both of those games.
It’s the third postseason meeting between the two franchises, and the first since 1982. The 76ers hold a 6-1 advantage and are 4-0 at home.
Sixers’ wing Furkan Korkmaz and his teammates are ready for the next installment after 39 long years.
“I saw everybody,” Korkmaz said. “I can tell from their eyes...we cannot wait to play.”
Joel Embiid (right knee; small lateral meniscus tear) was listed as questionable to play entering gameday morning.
Hunter (right knee soreness) is questionable for the Hawks. Atlanta’s Kris Dunn (non-COVID illness), Brandon Goodwin (respiratory condition) and Cam Reddish (right achilles soreness) are out.
Round 2, Game 1 has arrived.
Sunday’s contest is a 1 p.m. start.
After Nate McMillan took over head coaching duties, the Hawks won 27 of their final 38 games, finishing the regular season with a 41-31 record.
In the opening round of the playoffs against the Knicks, Trae Young tallied 29.2 points, 9.8 assists and 2.8 rebounds in 36.4 minutes per game. Bogdan Bogdanović posted 14.4 points, 6.6 rebounds and 3.8 assists in 35.6 minutes per contest in the five-game series. Clint Capela averaged a double-double with 10.0 points, 13.4 rebounds and 2.2 blocks in 33.9 minutes per game.
Capela led the NBA in rebounds per game (14.3 rpg, league-best 4.7 off. rpg) and ranked fourth in blocks per game (2.0 bpg) during the regular season. Young finished second in the league in assists per game (9.4 apg).
The 76ers’ Tobias Harris described the task at hand in clear terms just about 24 hours prior to Game 1:
“We’ve got Atlanta, it’s a brand new series for us,” said Harris. “It’s a brand new challenge. We’re ready to go.”
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