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The Sixers Forced A Game 7 With A Tight Road Win Over The Hawks

The Sixers mustered a close win, 104-99, over the Hawks in a road Game 6 on the backs of two strong performances from Joel Embiid and Seth Curry.

Atlanta got out to a big early lead. Not only was their offense in high gear, but Ben Simmons picked up his second foul with 6:41 to go in the first period and went to the bench. And as they have all series, Trae Young and the Hawks responded by hitting the gas.

With Embiid still nursing a torn meniscus and already not the most smooth big man defensively when he has to contain in space, Young was able to take advantage of him in the pick-and-roll. Young’s IQ continued to shine as it has throughout these breakout playoffs, and he scored 20 points in the first half to go with seven assists and zero turnovers. He killed Philadelphia with pull-up threes, floaters, and lobs.

It looked like the Sixers had no idea what was coming.

With Simmons and Tobias Harris both dealing with foul trouble, head coach Doc Rivers went to Tyrese Maxey for extended stretches in the first half as Simmons played just 10 minutes. Maxey responded with a huge performance, scoring aggressively and efficiently all night.

Embiid had just eight points on 4-for-11 shooting in the first half, but the floodgates finally opened in the third period as Philly opened with a 12-0 run. That was courtesy of an Embiid triple as well as three from Curry, who continued to pour it in from deep.

The Sixers consistently turned defense into offense, created threes, and took control of the game throughout the quarter and it looked like much of the rest of the series in that regard. That is, until John Collins came up with another monstrous, momentum-changing dunk over Embiid to give Atlanta some much-needed energy.

Collins drew a ton of contact on the slam and somehow turned it into a foul called on Embiid. The young Hawks big man made the and-one free throw and Atlanta was back in it.

As Atlanta threatened their lead again, the Sixers turned to Maxey once again after a fourth foul on Simmons, and the rookie responded again.

Simmons picked up his fifth foul with just over seven minutes to go in the fourth, but Rivers stuck with him this time, with the season on the line. Philly was nursing a five-point lead, but Rivers likely felt he couldn’t afford to let Young get to work without Simmons on the floor to guard him.

Yet on cue, the Hawks went back to their Hack-a-Ben strategy that worked so well in Game 5. On two straight possessions, Simmons went 1-for-2 from the line, allowing the Hawks to cut the lead to five. Rivers finally pulled him out with 6:04 to go in the game.

The Sixers kept their lead, but a couple moments later, Embiid was called for a charge after swinging his arm upward at Collins on a layup attempt. As Embiid fell to the ground on the play, he landed atop Collins, who then kicked and shoved Embiid off him. That escalated things between the two, and Embiid stepped in Collins’ face and backed him into the basket stanchion.

After a review and a challenge by Rivers, the charge on Embiid stood, and he and Collins received double technicals. It was at this point that the Hawks also announced Bogdan Bogdanovic would miss the remainder of the game with “right knee soreness.”

Young, as always, had a response. He made a wicked three at the end of the clock to keep the game within arm’s reach.

Despite a couple misses down the stretch (and a power malfunction), Atlanta had a couple turnovers of their own that allowed Philadelphia to secure the win and force a Game 7.

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