In the first meeting between the 76ers and Atlanta Hawks since game seven of the second-round round won by the Hawks, the Sixers crushed Atlanta 122-94.
Tobias Harris scored 22 points on 9-for-13 shooting and grabbed 11 rebounds. Joel Embiid posted 19 points and five rebounds.
Matisse Thybulle scored 11 points with four steals and three blocks in 23 minutes. That is incredible.
Trae Young had 13 points on 5-for-16 shooting and 10 assists.
Here’s three takeaways from the win.
Big assignment for Maxey
Tyrese Maxey and Young each started the scoring for their teams. Atlanta’s star point guard dropped in a transition floater, meanwhile Maxey coasted in for a dunk off of a steal and also sunk a floater of his own.
The Sixers let many of their early half-court possessions last until near the end of the shot clock, often making extra passes to a fault. They were good in transition, though, scoring seven of their first nine points on the fast break. At one point, the Sixers held a 19-2 fast-break scoring edge.
Young’s first quarter went horrible. He started 1-for-5 from the floor, missing a handful of floaters, and also picked up a technical after being called for a foul on a Seth Curry three.
A nice stretch in the second quarter for Maxey that included a confident three ended quickly when he was whistled for his third foul. He bit on a Young pump fake. Young only managed four free-throw attempts in the game, though.
These games against big names are big experiences for Maxey (16 points on 6-for-8 shooting) regardless of how the Simmons situation pans out. Progress won’t always be direct — Embiid threw his hands up in frustration at one point in the third when Maxey didn’t properly direct the Sixers into a set — but Maxey is going to keep learning and improving with reps.
A comfortable lead that wasn’t blown
Sixers fans probably won’t feel any lead is fully safe for a long time against the Hawks. But their scorers besides Embiid made key contributions Saturday at moments when it seemed Atlanta could creep back into the game.
Curry poured in nine points early in the third period and also drilled a crowd-pleasing transition three. Harris responded to a 6-0 Hawks run by hitting a tough leaner over Clint Capela and ran a sharp give-and-go with Danny Green as the shot clock dwindled a bit later.
At least in terms of minutes, though, Embiid had close to a normal load as he played 30. Head coach Doc Rivers curiously substituted him back into the game with 6:52 left and the Sixers leading by 24. A Maxey layup with 5:13 remaining that put the team up 27 was sufficient for Rivers to take Embiid out for good.
Another Simmons update
Ben Simmons missed Saturday’s game for personal reasons again. Rivers said pregame that Simmons has been “engaged” during his workouts at the Sixers’ practice facility but has not participated recently in team drills.
When asked what factors would determine when Simmons might return to games, Rivers said he has “no idea” and is focused on the players active.