Why Game 3 in Atlanta Was The Sixers Best Win of the Year

Last night was likely the Sixers most impressive win of the season or at least since they flew into the All-Star break with a win over the Jazz. It was a masterclass on how to win a playoff game on the road. Bench production, fantastic team defense, stars getting buckets, momentum killing shots. The Sixers had it all in State Farm Arena on Friday night. Here was the best of Game 3.


The Furkan Korkmaz Game?!

You probably expected this to start with Joel Embiid’s near triple-double in another dominant performance. And he is obviously the story every single night he takes the floor. But here is a tweet I put out after the game:


I’m happy for guys like Shake Milton and Korkmaz and the pride they take in their game. They stayed ready for their moment. Korkmaz steadied this team early in the 1st quarter with some instant offense. It was crucial after Danny Green got hurt and the Atlanta crowd was still roaring while the game was close. The high for the starters after the 1st quarter was 4 points. Furkan Korkmaz had 11. He knows his role and he played it to perfection. Game 1 might’ve been one of the worst performances a bench unit has ever had in a playoff game. Since then, Milton and Korkmaz have provided two electric performances off the bench to fuel this team. Korkmaz was one of six players to finish with 12+ points, and all of it was needed. It’s hard to love to root for these guys.


The Masterclass Ben Simmons Performance

Doc Rivers and Ben Simmons have been two members of this team criticized the most in this series, whether it be fair or not. The third quarter of Game 3 was their atonement. Rivers decision to feature Simmons in the post, instead of Embiid gave the Hawks absolute fits. The Sixers came out and hit their first 8 shots of the quarter. The Hawks defenders were either too small to cover him or the post, or too slow to stay with Ben (Danillo Gallinari). Simmons is a fantastic passer anywhere on the floor but the ability was heightened out of the post. As soon as the Hawks diverted their attention to Simmons for too long, he found the open guy.

He finished with 18 points, he started hitting his free throws in the second half (4/8 overall but all 4 were in the 2nd half), and was 7/11 from the field. He finally got aggressive and got anything he wanted at the rim.

His offensive output tonight should never overshadow what he is doing defensively. Trae Young finished with 28 points and none of it came easy. Young finished as a -10. His floater is lethal but the Sixers since the the first half of Game 1 of doing such a great job of denying the lobs, clogging lanes to the basket and getting arms up around him. It starts with Simmons who is putting incredible ball pressure on Young and once he passes it, Ben goes into full lockdown mode. There was a possession in the 2nd half, where the Sixers were really starting to constrict like a snake on defense. Trae Young gave the ball up to initiate the offense. Simmons is guarding him near the half court line with his back turned. In any other instance, that’s bad help defense. But with Young, it was the perfect deny defense and Simmons was smothering him. It has completely changed this series since last Sunday.


Bench Production(!!!)

The two most “back” entities in the world are Dana B from Barstool and the Sixers bench. The coaching staff for Philly probably labored over the substitutions and rotations for 3 days straight. Only for it to go up in flames three minutes into the game when Danny green gets hurt. The bench responded with an astounding performance given what we had seen for 7 of 8 quarters of this series.

In some form or fashion, everybody chipped in. Well, you could make the case for a large part of that game George Hill was chipping in for the Hawks (he did hit a clutch three). A perfect example of a team effort: Shake Milton took his minutes back from Tyrese Maxey. But in a shot clock turned off setting, where the Sixers get the last shot, they brought in Maxey. He immediately responds by blowing by his defender, and sinking his patented off balance floater off the glass as time expires.

Another example would just flat out be Dwight Howard. The Hawks are taking out Clint Capela when Embiid goes to the bench, and rightfully so. But it’s leaving Howard with a size mismatch to rebound everything. He also had a nice little putback as time expired. The Sixers missed 14 free throws or else they might win by 25. Howard, surprisingly, was not the culprit. He was 4 for 5 from the line.

Every single person made a big play to win that game.


Joel Embiid, His Dominance, and the Injury Cheers

The Hawks are at the point where they are trying triple teams on Embiid. He missed more free throws than normal. Looked hobbled at times. And was still absolutely no match for this team. His dominance is so enjoyable and should be appreciated on a nightly basis.

But what happened last night with him can’t be shoved under the rug because it doesn’t fit a narrative. Hawks fans cheered his knee injury not once but TWICE.

The NBA is having an enormous issue with player and fan relations. But this one is different. In the past few weeks, there is always one isolated idiot throwing drinks (or popcorn), spitting, or taking insults too far. Last night was an entire arena cheering on the fact a grown man tore a ligament in his leg. It was disgusting and what is even more disgusting is that you do not hear a single national media conglomerate speaking on it. If the roles were reversed, and Trae Young limps as a Philly crowd cheers, it would have been “front page news”. This isn’t your classic Philly inferiority complex. We have a right to be infuriated with this one.

But Joel keeps getting up, and he keeps dominating. Cherish it.

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