What to watch as 76ers host Game 7 against Hawks, Embiid fined for altercation
The 76ers on Sunday will play their first home game seven since beating the Milwaukee Bucks on June 3, 2001 to reach the NBA Finals. Allen Iverson scored 44 points and Dikembe Mutombo had 23 points, 19 rebounds, and seven rebounds in that game.
If the Sixers beat the Atlanta Hawks, they’ll play the Bucks again in the Eastern Conference Finals, with game one on Wednesday night. The Bucks secured their spot with a game seven overtime win Saturday over the Brooklyn Nets.
Here were the Hawks and Sixers’ full reports as of Saturday night:
- Cam Reddish — Out (Right Achilles soreness)
- De’Andre Hunter — Out (Right meniscus surgery)
- Brandon Goodwin — Out (Respiratory condition)
- Trae Young — Probable (Right shoulder soreness)
- Bogdan Bogdanovic — Questionable (Right knee soreness)
- Danny Green — Out (Right calf strain)
- Joel Embiid — Questionable (Small right lateral meniscus tear)
Embiid has been listed as questionable for every game this series.
Bogdanovic’s injury forced him to miss the final 9:55 of Atlanta’s game six loss.
Here’s what to watch:
How much do the starters need to do?
With 53 minutes played and 48 points made, Kevin Durant air balled a potential go-ahead three-pointer in overtime Saturday night.
In a must-win game Friday, Embiid, Tobias Harris, and Seth Curry all played in the 38-39 minute range for the Sixers. But will head coach Doc Rivers rely on his best players more than usual for game seven?
“I actually reached out to each one of them,” Rivers said Saturday. “I’ve done it three or four times in a row, and I keep on purpose pushing their number, what they think, up. I really wanted Tobias to go 40. That’s what I had him scheduled for. I don’t think we got him there — I think it was 38, 39. … But visually, you could see we were right at that limit. Everybody has a number where all of a sudden, they’re not as productive as you want them to be.
“And a lot of guys, what we’ve learned is once they get over that, it’s hard for them to come back. And so you have to be very careful with that during a game. I thought we kept a really close eye on it, and I thought we got away with it — probably right at the max. But if we can extend, we will.”
Curry’s 39:04 of playing time Friday was his highest for the season. Harris nearly reached 44 minutes in the Sixers’ March 17 overtime loss to the Bucks, while Embiid played 40:28 in a February OT defeat to the Cleveland Caveleirs.
Embiid went 45 minutes in the Sixers’ game seven loss to the Toronto Raptors two years ago. The Sixers were outscored by nine points in Greg Monroe’s 1:41, the kind of extreme figures Rivers will hope to avoid should Dwight Howard continue to play.
Rivers used 10 players in game six. He’s liked the Sixers’ depth throughout his first season in Philadelphia, but Sunday may very well be the time to trim a player or two from the rotation.
There won’t be confirmation until 30 minutes or so before tip-off, but Rivers indicated Saturday he does not have a starting lineup change in store.
“I like exactly how we started,” he said. “We started (Furkan) Korkmaz, by the way, last night — and won. His numbers have been pretty good overall. I don’t overreact to each single game. If I did, I would’ve started Shake (Milton) after game (two), because he had a great game. So that’s not what we do. We stay solid, we stay disciplined and we run our stuff.”
Korkmaz has 24 points and 12 rebounds in three games since coming into the starting five for Green. He’s made 9 of 25 field goals (36%) and 4 of 15 three-point attempts (26.7%).
According to Rivers, the Sixers wanted to surround Tyrese Maxey with as much shooting as possible in game six, which explains why Korkmaz played 23 minutes and Matisse Thybulle only 11. Maxey gave the Sixers a welcome burst of energy and scoring Friday, making his first four field goals and playing dogged defense on Trae Young.
Seven of Maxey’s 30 minutes were with Ben Simmons. How much will Maxey handle the ball Sunday in lineups alongside Simmons? And, assuming Simmons is mainly employed off the ball in half-court offense, can he make a positive impact on post-ups, as a screener and roller, and as an offensive rebounder?
Embiid fined for altercation with Collins, Fernando suspended for Game 7
The NBA announced a fine and a suspension stemming from a fourth-quarter altercation in game six.
The league said that Joel Embiid has been fined $35,000 for “pursuing Atlanta Hawks forward John Collins in an unsportsmanlike manner and failing to comply with an NBA Security interview following the on-court incident.”
Hawks center Bruno Fernando has been suspended for game seven for leaving the bench area. The 22-year-old has not been part of Atlanta’s rotation.
Here is the incident that took place after Embiid was called for an offensive foul and then pushed by Collins on the ground. He advanced toward Collins with his arms spread wide, and a crowd of players soon joined them on the baseline:
Both Embiid and Collins were called for technical fouls. Embiid disagreed with the initial offensive foul call and also didn’t like how game six was officiated in general.
“Well, I got a tech for it, and I didn’t think it was an offensive foul,” he said Friday night. “I was just trying to stay calm and have my hands up. Someone was pushing me from the back and I don’t understand why I got a tech, but I guess it is what it is. I was hacked all night and I don’t think I got to the free throw line until I got to the fourth quarter. So it was questionable. But we got the win. That’s all that matters.”