“Whenever you can split in the playoffs and especially split on the road, that’s a good thing,” McMillian. “It’s the same thing that happened with New York. I like where we are.”
Philadelphia 76ers' Shake Milton, left, goes up for a shot against Atlanta Hawks' Kevin Huerter, center, and Solomon Hill during the second half of Game 2 in a second-round NBA basketball playoff series, Tuesday, June 8, 2021, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
Joel Embiid scored 39 points in Game 1. His team lost. He scored 40 on Tuesday. His team won. The Hawks’ starting frontcourt of Clint Capela, John Collins and Solomon Hill – De’Andre Hunter again sat out with a sore knee – managed 18 points. Said McMillan, telling no lies: “He’s a problem for our defense. At times he’s getting too deep. Our double-teams aren’t getting there. He pretty much has had his way down on the block.”
The first three quarters were fascinating. Playing something approaching old-school ball, the Sixers owned the lane. The shooting of the Hawks’ subs – Kevin Huerter and Danilo Gallinari each had 15 points in the first half – nearly offset the imbalance. Until Shake Milton took over, this game was there to be had.
Said Young, who had 21 points, 11 assists and four turnovers: “I’m proud of the way we fought. Obviously we have to make some adjustments going into Game 3. We’ll be all right.”
76ers 118, Hawks 102 (box score)
Two games in, the Hawks have reason to believe they can do in Round 2 as they did in Round 1 – split on the road, win two at home and force the opposition into elimination mode. There’s no doubt the Sixers are better than the Knicks, but it’s not yet certain if the Sixers are better than the Hawks. With the mighty Embiid and the 6-foot-11 point guard Ben Simmons, Philly is much the bigger team, but didn’t we learn from Golden State that smallish shooters can override heft?
Said Gallinari: “We have a lot of confidence in ourselves. We know we didn’t have a very good game tonight, but we have confidence we can take care of things at home.”
Then: “We need to be more physical. We learned in the New York series we had to be physical.”
They won that one in five games. They might well win this in six. Philly must win at least once at State Farm Arena, where the Knicks couldn’t even come close. As deflating as this fourth quarter was, the Hawks are where they need to be – tied at 1 and headed home, Game 3 upcoming.
Said Huerter: “We’re fine where we are and ready to come home.”
Young’s parting words to the media: “See y’all Friday.”