Disaster Strikes Philly in Sixers-Hawks Series Opener


On Sunday afternoon, the top-seeded Philadelphia 76ers dropped the opening game of the Eastern Conference Semifinals, 128-124.

Though the Atlanta Hawks only won by four, the final score doesn’t reflect how much of a struggle this game actually was.

What went wrong

Two words — Doc Rivers. Our well-respected coach made some interesting decisions regarding the lineup. His choice of all-bench in the first half pretty much decided the game. Specifically at the end of the first quarter, the all-bench lineup were outscored 10-0 and had five turnovers. This continued into the second quarter, as the Hawks added seven more points to the run.

Rivers was close-minded about who should be defending Trae Young. 19 of Young’s 25 first-half points came from Danny Green being the primary defender. Despite Green struggling to keep up with the 22-year-old star, Doc did not attempt to make any changes to better the outcome… until the second half!

To make matters worse, Green was not helpful offensively either. He scored four points in 30 minutes of play, while attempting four 3’s– missing them all.

Turnovers. During Rivers’ post-game interview, he claimed turnovers were the big difference in game one. Ben Simmons had five, Joel Embiid had four, and Tobias Harris had three. Every player off the bench besides Matisse Thybulle had at least one turnover, bringing the team’s number to 20. During the first half, NBA analyst Seth Partnow pointed out that “[the] highest first half turnover rate in any game this season was 34.6%. Sixers currently at 38.7%.”

The Hawks’ shooting. This observation is simple; the Hawks were hitting all of their open 3s, and the Sixers were not. The team hit a franchise record 20 made 3s in a playoff game.

Even though they made Hawks history, it is clear that will not happen every game. With that in mind, let’s take a look at what went well!

What went well:

Joel Embiid surprised Philadelphia by starting the game in spite of his torn meniscus. He dominated the game by playing 38 minutes, finishing with 39 points, nine rebounds, four assists and three blocks.

Players stepping up offensively. The Sixers finished with 124 points after being constantly outscored in the early minutes. Simmons had 17 points, 10 assists and four steals, Tobias Harris had 20, and Seth Curry had 21 (7/12 FG, 5/9 3PT). Thybulle finished with 10 (4/6 FG, 2/4 3PT). In 11 minutes, Furkan Korkmaz scored seven (3-5 FG, 1-2 3PT).

Will to fight. Thankfully, the Sixers did not give up their battle (despite Doc putting in Shake Milton with eight minutes to go). They poured in 41 points in the fourth quarter, and kept the already-excited fans on the edge of their seats by making it a three-point game with 1:01 remaining.

Though the outcome was not favorable, the Sixers only lost by four. Triple H might say something like “I have [3] words for you… Sixers in 6.”

Follow us on Twitter @SixersLead for the latest 76ers news and insight. 

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About Dakota Hurwitz

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