GRADES: Sixers drub Hawks to retake home court advantage

In the last game, Atlanta struggled to contain Sixers All-Star Joel Embiid. That pattern did not cease in game 3.  If anything, what did cease is the perimeter scoring game that the Hawks so heavily relied upon.

In the first quarter, the Hawks’ crowd was rocking. While the building was intense and full of excitement to see Atlanta try and handle the Sixers at home, Philly stuck to their game plan and put pressure on the Hawks. Trae Young and company played tight the first quarter, with the exception of Bogdan Bogdanovic, who provided much needed offense for Atlanta.

Although Joel Embiid did not start off hot, Tobias Harris established his offense in an aggressive manner, scoring in a variety of ways. While both teams had trouble getting set early, Danny Green suffered a leg injury that put him out of the game. Matisse Thybulle replaced Green, and Furkan Korkmaz joined him off the bench. These substitutions gave the Sixers a spark that helped them jump out to an early lead.

As Thybulle contested every Trae Young shot, Korkmaz was just as aggressive with his own shot. The Turkish Sensation drove for a basket and hit two 3-pointers early to give Philly a solid lead going into the second quarter. With Embiid on the bench, Harris stabilized the Sixers’ offense.

Atlanta played the second quarter with second unit players like Lou WIlliams and Danilo Gallinari, but the hero from game 2 for the 76ers, Shake Milton, gave some bench offensive punch for Philly. As Green stayed sidelined, Thybulle tried to keep up with Young, but the Sixers’ defensive stud was called for multiple fouls that hampered him the rest of the game.

By halftime, Embiid and Simmons had quiet performances, but the Hawks’ perimeter pieces struggled from behind the arc. The Sixers’ second half would need Embiid and Simmons to be more effective, and that is exactly what happened after intermission.

The start of the second half displayed an offensive outburst from Philly that caught Nate McMillan’s team off guard and silenced the Hawks’ fans earlier than they hoped. A Ben Simmons resurgence happened, as the DPOY runner-up went into offensive mode, attacking the basket, converting on several layups and an easy dunk in transition. A Simmons to Embiid alley-oop rocked the rim, and the confidence of the Hawks, while Trae Young sat on the bench looking incredulous.

At one point, Thybulle nailed a 3-pointer, Simmons hit two consecutive free throws, and Tyrese Maxy hit a floater off glass. The lead for Philly ballooned to 20. If Atlanta had any hope to recover, they had to work quickly. When Korkmaz came back in, he and Harris refused to relinquish their lead. While Dwight Howard muscled offensive rebounds, Korkmaz and Harris never let up their aggression, scoring on baskets in the paint and on the perimeter.

After frustration set in for Trae Young, he was assessed a technical foul, while Embiid kept putting in work at the foul line.  Tobias Harris stepped up as a run-stopper, controlling the Sixers offense, but out of nowhere, the Hawks cut the lead to 13. Once Korkmaz saw a sliver of daylight on a corner 3-point shot, he burned his defender, and the 76ers’ lead jumped back to 16. Although Thybulle fouled out, the game was out of reach by then, and the Sixers walked away with a convincing win on the road.

At one point, the camera zoomed in on Dikembe Mutombo, who was sitting in the stands, looking as dubious as the Hawks bench. Sixers fans could wonder whose side he was on as he watched, but it did not matter. All that mattered to the Philly faithful is that the Sixers’ Cameroon king put up another solid performance and led the Sixers closer to a series victory.

Grades from a dominant road win as the Sixers retake home-court advantage in the second round.

FURKAN KORKMAZ

SF, Philadelphia 76ers

B+

27 mins | 14 pts | 0 reb | 1 ast | 2 stl | 0 blk | 0 TO | 4-9 FG | 3-6 3PT| 3-3 FT | 0 PF | +24

If Shake Milton was the unexpected hero in game 2, Furkan Korkmaz stepped up for game 3. Playing almost 30 minutes, Korkmaz got a big vote of confidence from Doc Rivers in the rotation. The sharp-shooting bench player delivered instant offense whenever he entered the game. He was critically important when Embiid and Harris were unable to get up good shots. This game should boost his stock in the rotation moving forward.

SETH CURRY

SG, Philadelphia 76ers

B+

32 mins | 12 pts | 4 reb | 2 ast | 2 stl | 0 blk | 2 TO | 5-10 FG | 2-5 3PT| 0-0 FT | 3 PF | +13

Seth Curry only got up 10 shots, but he made half of them and kept his presence felt, coming off screens and opening the floor. He gave a solid effort, scoring when needed and limited his turnovers as he’s done the entire playoffs. His ability to handle the basketball is underrated. Look for Curry to pull the trigger more from beyond the arc if Danny Green is out for the next game.

TOBIAS HARRIS

PF, Philadelphia 76ers

A-

38 mins | 22 pts | 8 reb | 5 ast | 0 stl | 0 blk | 1 TO | 10-16 FG | 1-1 3PT| 1-3 FT | 4 PF | +9

Harris is steadily becoming Mr. Steady. Another day at the office for the Sixers’ second leading scorer, where he surpassed the 20-point mark yet again. Most important, he sought his shot early and often, alleviating pressure for Embiid to put up monster numbers for a third straight game. He pulled down eight boards and dished out five dimes. This was a well-rounded game for Tobias Harris.

BEN SIMMONS

PG, Philadelphia 76ers

B+

34 mins | 18 pts | 4 reb | 7 ast | 1 stl | 0 blk | 3 TO | 7-11 FG | 0-0 3PT| 4-8 FT | 5 PF | +14

This game was a tale of two halves for Ben Simmons. The first two quarters he seemed disengaged. He was not looking for his shot, and he had pedestrian numbers. Then, he emerged out the half with fire in his step. He drove more aggressively, looked to score, and pushed the pace for Philly. He was also effective again versus Trae Young, limiting the diminutive Atlanta guard to only 17 shots. This is the Simmons Philadelphia needs if they are to reach the next playoff round.

JOEL EMBIID

C, Philadelphia 76ers

A

34 mins |  27 pts |  9 reb |  8 ast | 1 stl | 3 blk | 1 TO | 7-14 FG | 1-3 3PT| 12-16 FT | 3 PF | +16

This performance by Joel Embiid showed exactly why his play has improved over his playoff career. The stat that should jump out is the eight assists he racked up, and the fact that he had only one turnover. This proves that Embiid is passing out of double teams more accurately. This is a huge deal considering how he struggled with this in past postseasons.


The Sixers walked away with a victory in this game, 127-111. The next game is in Atlanta on Monday at 7:30 PM E.T. and will be televised on TNT.