The Sixers beat the Atlanta Hawks to remain the last undefeated team in the East. With 8.4 seconds left, the Sixers found themselves up by three points. Instead of allowing the Hawks to take a 3 and tie the game, the Sixers fouled Trae Young on the floor, sending him to the line. Young hit the first shot, then missed the second. On a defensive lapse by the Sixers, they allowed John Collins to tip the ball in – tying the game with 7.4 seconds remaining. The Sixers then inbounded the ball, and a foul by Collins sent Embiid to the line to sink his free throws, giving the Sixers a two-point lead. After a buzzer-beating heave by Vince Carter failed to fall, the Sixers will head back to Philadelphia undefeated.
Prior to the heart-pounding conclusion to the game, the story of the night surrounded some truly questionable officiating calls. Fouls were called on Josh Richardson and Joel Embiid tonight, on plays in which the Sixers’ starters were left on the ground with their hands covering their faces in pain. However, the real egregious call came in the 2nd quarter. Mike Scott chased Damian Jones on a fast break and gave him what Marc Zumoff and Alaa Abdelnaby would call an “emphatic foul” on the broadcast. The referees inexplicably called the foul a Flagrant 2, sending Mike Scott to the locker room and causing ‘Flagrant 2’ to trend on Twitter. While the game was still won despite the absence of Mike Scott, his absence, in addition to a later injury to Shake Milton, shortened Brett Brown’s bench and maybe shortened my life by a few years.
After starting today listed as questionable, Joel Embiid showed up and showed off. He finished the night with 36 points, 13 rebounds, 5 assists, and a block. He proved to be the go-to guy that Brett Brown has claimed him to be, sinking the free throws that ultimately won the game. He carried the team offensively.....oh, and he did this:
Outside of Embiid, the Sixers’ starters had a slow night offensively. Al Horford only scored five points, but contributed other ways and finished the game with a positive +/-. Prior to receiving his 5th foul, Josh Richardson was tasked with defending Trae Young when they shared the court together and finished with 14 points. Ben Simmons and Tobias Harris both finished with 13 points.
The young players on the team, Shake Milton and Matisse Thybulle, continued to make their case for increased minutes. They each hit a pair of 3s in the game, but beyond that, they displayed confidence and poise in taking those shots. While Thybulle’s shots may not fall as frequently as the fans may like, he is good at selecting shots, taking the 3 when it is appropriate. Matisse continues to be a nuisance on defense, with four steals in tonight’s game. Milton’s confidence was also on display, particularly in the form of some light chatter after sinking a 3. Unfortunately, Milton left the game in the third quarter after hyperextending his left knee and did not return.
The Hawks led for much of the game, but could not hold off a surging Sixers team in the fourth quarter. Trae Young finished with 25 points, 19 of them coming in the first half. De’Andre Hunter had a strong performance, finishing with 14 points and nine rebounds. John Collins also contributed 16 points and Bruno Fernando was the leading bench scorer in the game with 11 points. Coach Lloyd Pierce deployed a deep bench in an attempt to take down the Sixers, playing 12 players in tonight’s contest.
Next for the Sixers is a game against Robert Covington and the Minnesota Timberwolves on Wednesday in Philadelphia. It’s always nice to have RoCo home, but the Sixers will look to send their former teammate home with a loss.