Monday night featured a battle between the only two undefeated teams in the Eastern Conference, the Philadelphia 76ers and the Atlanta Hawks. The 76ers traveled to Atlanta and came out on top in a gritty contest, 105-103, to move to 3-0 on the season.
It was all Atlanta to start off the game as the home team came out on fire from three-point range. The Hawks would put go on to outscore the Sixers 40-31 in the first quarter. However, the Hawks' offense would cool off and the Sixers jumped on the opportunity to get back in the game. They were down 65-63 heading into halftime.
The second half went back and forth, with Philadelphia pulling out the victory in the final minute of the game. Here are our observations from the Sixers' victory in Atlanta.
Joel Embiid out duels Trae Young, shows out on both ends of the floor
The stars showed out in this game for both teams. Joel Embiid had a huge impact in this game in just about every way possible. The All-Star center logged 36 points, 13 rebounds, five assists, three steals, and one block on the night. He would also go on to knock down two huge free throws in the final seconds to put the game away. Embiid was getting a heavy dose of the double team for much of the night, but he fought through to have easily his best game of the season thus far.
Embiid also made one of the best dunks of his career in the third quarter against John Collins.
On Atlanta’s side, Trae Young continues to amaze as he put up 25 points, nine assists, and four rebounds. He has a history of playing well against Philadelphia, leading Atlanta to wins in the last three meetings between the two teams heading into Monday night's contest. Young played well in the first half, but Philadelphia head coach Brett Brown made some adjustments during half time that resulted in slowing Young down and making him shoot a meager 1 of 8 in the second half.
76ers' early-season trend of poor three-point shooting continues
The 76ers' lack of three-point shooting was in full effect tonight as the team struggled to buy a bucket from deep for much of the night. As a team, the Sixers would go on to shoot 27% on 11 of 41 shooting from beyond the arc.
Mike Scott was ejected on a questionable flagrant two foul call late in the first half, leaving the Sixers down one of their best three-point shooters through the first two games of the season. Shake Milton, who was on his way to a good night with nine points on 2 of 5 shooting from deep, left the game due to a left knee hyperextension in the second half.
With two of their best shooters missing for portions of the game, the 76ers should not have taken 41 three-pointers. As a team who has been struggling to knock down shots from outside the arc, the Sixers needed to run their offense more from inside the paint. If Philadelphia had played more of an inside game, the game might not have been as close.
Turnovers, turnovers and more turnovers
Turnovers have always been something that has hurt the 76ers in the past and it was apparent tonight as well. Philadelphia committed 21 turnovers against Atlanta, including a handful of either brutal decision making or brutal execution. The team passed for 22 assists, and a 1-for-1 assist-to-turnover ratio is simply not good enough. Ben Simmons and Embiid combined for 11 turnovers, which is inexcusable coming from the team's top two players.
However, the 76ers did an excellent job of forcing turnovers on the other end of the floor. Atlanta equaled the Sixers' 21 turnovers, with seven of them coming from Young.
Rookie Matisse Thybulle did a good job throughout the game, but especially in the first half when he received the assignment to attempt to guard the Hawks' dynamic second-year guard. Thybulle finished the first half with three steals and two blocks as he was flying around the floor and picking off some lazy passes Atlanta was making.
Stats and other important things
- Josh Richardson had his best offensive game as a member of the 76ers. He finished with 14 points, five rebounds and three assists to go along with three blocks on the defensive end of the floor. He got off to a fast start in the first half, but was sidelined for big portions of the game due to foul trouble.
- After seeing Ben Simmons play with an attacking, aggressive style in the season opener against Boston, it seemed as if fans were going to get treated to a more dominant, physical version of Simmons this season. However, that has not been the case through the next two games. Simmons finished with 13 points on 11 shots, but on a multitude of occasions he drove into the paint just to avoid taking a shot and make a pass out to someone at the three-point line.
- Tobias Harris struggled shooting throughout the game, making only five of his 16 shots and one of his nine threes. However, he did make a big-time shot in the final minute of the game. He posted up and backed his man down to create space so he could nail a mid-range jumper from just outside the paint. With that being said, he is getting paid $180 million and needs to produce at a higher level (like he did against Detroit) on a more consistent basis.
The 76ers return home to the Wells Fargo Center to face the Minnesota Timberwolves and Western Conference Player of the Week Karl-Anthony Towns on Wednesday October 30th.