GRADES: Too little, too late in Sixers’ Game 1 loss to Hawks

Danny Green, Joel Embiid, Sixers (Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)
Danny Green, Joel Embiid, Sixers (Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images) /

The Sixers fell to the Trae Young and the Atlanta Hawks, 128-124, in a thrilling Game One of the Eastern Conference semifinals. Behind poor Sixers’ bench play and insanely hot Hawks’ shooting, the Sixers fell behind early and could not make up the difference.

Entering Game One, all eyes were on Joel Embiid and his injured knee. Doubts about the Embiid’s health quickly dissipated as the superstar looked aggressive early. Ben Simmons also attacked the paint early as the Sixers and Hawks battled back and forth in the first few minutes of the game.

After starting slow in the first half, the Sixers nearly completed the comeback before falling short to the Hawks in the closing minutes of game one.

Despite Embiid starting strong, all eyes quickly turned to the Hawks and the Trae Young show. Young finished the first quarter with 12 points and five assists, dominating his matchup with the slower Danny Green by getting into the paint and drilling off the dribble threes.

Making matters worse, the Sixers turned the ball over nine times in the first quarter. Turnovers, Trae Young, and poor bench performance led to the Hawks jumping out to a 42-27 first-quarter lead, a lead that would prove too large for the Sixers to overcome.

Somehow, the second quarter got even worse. The Sixers gave up a 17-0 run spanning the first and second quarters, ultimately falling behind 53-27. Most of that run was with an all-bench lineup, one of the many questionable moves Doc Rivers made in this game.

At the half, the Sixers were down 74-54 despite Embiid and Tobias Harris combining for 32 points. The Hawks went 26-41 from the field and 13-25 from three in the first half, destroying the Sixers’ drop coverage. Young put together a nearly perfect half with 25 points and seven assists while orchestrating the offense.

The Sixers adjusted in the second half, putting Simmons and Matisse Thybulle on Young for stretches and sending double teams to get the ball out of his hands. Despite more energy and defensive intensity from the Simmons and the Sixers, the Hawks’ lead continued to fluctuate between 15 to 22.

The fourth quarter looked like a completely different game. The Hawks channeled their inner Atlanta Falcons, making questionable decisions and playing to not lose the game. The Sixers took advantage of the Hawk’s miscues, battling all the way back and getting within three points with 28 seconds left.

The Sixers nearly forced a turnover before a critical clear path foul on Embiid seemed to put the game away for the Hawks. After an offensive rebound and steal, the Sixers got within two before Bogdan Bogdanovic iced the game with two free throws.

Despite being slowed in the second, Young still finished with 35 points and 10 assists. Bogdanovic and John Collins both added 21 points, and ultimately, the Hawks’ offense was a bit too much for the Sixers.

. C. Philadelphia 76ers. JOEL EMBIID. A

38 mins | 39 pts | 9 reb | 4 ast | 1 stl | 3 blk | 4 TO | 12-21 FG | 1-3 3PT| 14-15 FT | 4 PF | +13 |

Embiid was dominant in this game offensively. Embiid got to the line, scored efficiently, and picked apart the Hawks’ double teams with smart passes. Embiid could have been more active defensively, although the issue is more with Doc’s drop coverage scheme, not Embiid. Still, the MVP candidate played very well despite returning from injury.

B-. . PG. Philadelphia 76ers. BEN SIMMONS

37 mins | 17 pts | 4 reb | 10 ast | 4 stl | 1 blk | 5 TO | 7-7 FG | 0-0 3PT| 3-10 FT | 4 PF | +4 |

Simmons had a strange game. Ben shot well from the field, threw some beautiful passes, and provided much-needed energy when the game could have gotten out of hand in the third. On the other hand, Simmons struggled from the free-throw line in a close game, had five turnovers, and did not have a huge impact defensively, although that is more on Doc and his questionable defensive matchups.

B. . PF. Philadelphia 76ers. TOBIAS HARRIS

36 mins | 20 pts | 10 reb | 3 ast | 3 stl | 0 blk | 3 TO | 8-13 FG | 1-4 3PT| 3-4 FT | 0 PF | +9 |

Harris played very well in the first half, scoring 15 points and getting involved in the offense. He fell off a bit in the second half and was not very noticeable, something you don’t want from a max player. Overall, it was an average game from Harris on a night where the Sixers could have used just a little bit more.

A. . SG. Philadelphia 76ers. SETH CURRY

36 mins | 21 pts | 4 reb | 3 ast | 0 stl | 0 blk | 0 TO | 7-12 FG | 5-9 3PT| 2-2 FT | 2 PF | +16 |

Seth Curry was a team-high +16 and was the only Sixer consistently hitting from deep. Curry gave the Sixers plenty of offense and did not get picked on defensively. Great overall game from the veteran.

F. . SF. Philadelphia 76ers. DANNY GREEN

30 mins | 4 pts | 2 reb | 4 ast | 2 stl | 0 blk | 1 TO | 2-7 FG | 0-4 3PT| 0-0 FT | 4 PF | +5 |

Rough game from Danny Green. Much of the blame should go on Doc Rivers and his scheme for putting Green on Trae Young in the first place, but Green was abysmal against Young off the dribble. Also, Green did not make Young work at all on the defensive end, a key to wearing out the Hawks’ star.

The bright side is that the Sixers have the momentum from the second half and the adjustments are fairly clear. First, have Simmons and Thybulle guard Young at all times. Second, no more all bench units. All five starters had positive on-off numbers, while the bench really struggled all game. Third, attack Trae Young when he is on defense.

Next. Sixers will go as far as the starting lineup takes them. dark

With Game Two on Tuesday, the Sixers will have the opportunity to bounce back. If Rivers makes the necessary adjustments, the Sixers should get back on track in this series.