Joel Embiid dominated and the 76ers controlled the fourth quarter to beat the Hawks in Game 2 of the NBA playoffs, 118-102, Tuesday in Philadelphia. The Eastern Conference semifinal series is tied 1-1.
Next up, Game 3 will be at 7:30 p.m. in Atlanta Friday.
Below are some takeaways from the loss:
1. The Hawks took their first lead of the night, 80-79, toward the end of the third quarter, but everything went right for Philly when it mattered. After zero points from the 76ers bench for about 33 minutes, Shake Milton drained a 3-pointer at the very end of the third quarter which seemed to shift everything in Philly’s favor. It meant the Hawks trailed by seven entering the fourth, and a quick 11-0 run by the 76ers put them in too deep a hole to climb out of. Ultimately, they lost the fourth quarter, 27-18.
“We just didn’t have enough to continue to play with that momentum, but I didn’t think that we gave up. ... We just didn’t have enough stops and we didn’t do a good job of taking care of the ball to continue with the momentum and win this game,” interim coach Nate McMillan said.
2. Turnovers, the one thing the Hawks knew they absolutely had to avoid, ended up largely dooming them. They finished with 18, which led to 28 points for Philadelphia, a team with size that excels at being aggressive, turning teams over and playing in transition.
3. For the second game in a row, the Hawks were without one of their best defenders in De’Andre Hunter (right knee soreness), and the 76ers had Embiid (who is day-to-day with a meniscus tear) available. Embiid dominated with a double-double of 40 points and 13 rebounds, helping the 76ers to 52 points in the paint to the Hawks’ 44. It was a relatively quiet shooting night for the Hawks’ frontcourt of John Collins (eight points, 10 rebounds) and Clint Capela (10 points, eight rebounds, three turnovers). Missing Hunter really hurts the Hawks, especially when he could offer some help on the perimeter against Philly’s talented wings, but he continues to experience some swelling in his right knee.
“We’re going to be cautious with him,” McMillan said of Hunter. “We have been since he had the surgery and we’re going to continue to do that. If he feels well enough after treatment to play, then we’ll put him out there, if he doesn’t, then we’ll hold him.”
4. In Game 1, the Hawks caught the 76ers off guard, jumping out to a huge lead courtesy of hot shooting and sloppy Philadelphia turnovers. The opposite happened in Game 2, and the Hawks trailed by 18 before they knew what hit them. They recovered and made it competitive thanks to great performances off the bench from Kevin Huerter and Danilo Gallinari, both of whom had 15 points by halftime. Gallinari finished with 21 points and nine rebounds, and Huerter finished with 20 points, two assists and two blocks, though he did have four turnovers. Huerter has had an excellent showing in the postseason, displaying significant defensive improvement in addition to his scoring and playmaking.
“He’s been doing really good, knocking down shots, being ready and being aggressive. ... He’s been playing great and we’re going to need him to continue to do that, if we’re going to finish out this series strong,” Trae Young said of Huerter.
5. Young has been unstoppable in his first postseason run, but had a tougher shooting night in this loss. He still had 21 points, which ties Gallinari for a team-high, but went 1-7 from beyond the arc. After Danny Green guarded Young for most of Game 1 (with minimal success), Ben Simmons played more on Young Tuesday. Young added 11 assists for a double-double, with four turnovers.
“Obviously Ben was guarding me a little bit more tonight, but I had a lot of shots that I was open and they just didn’t fall,” Young said. “Wish they would have fallen, for my team, but got to get better for next game.”
76ers 118, Hawks 102 (box score)
Stat of the game
12-for-16 (what Embiid, who excels at drawing fouls, shot from the line, compared to the Hawks going 15-for-18 as a team)
Star of the game
Embiid (had a game-high 40 points and was a plus-14)
“I hope the fans are ready to rock the house on Friday.” (Young on the Hawks returning to Atlanta for games 3 and 4)