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Welcome back, big fella! Embiid’s late-game heroics lift Sixers past the Hawks

The Sixers’ All-Star center was terrific on both ends in the Sixers’ dramatic win over the Hawks Monday.

Atlanta Hawks v Philadelphia 76ers Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

Joel Embiid made his return to the lineup Monday night as the Sixers took down the Atlanta Hawks, 104-101. The big fella made his return in dramatic fashion, dropping 29 points, eight rebounds, seven assists, and making two huge plays at the end of the game to seal the win.

The Sixers move to 12-9 on the season.

Here are some instant takeaways from the win.

First quarter

  • It was a very sloppy start for the Sixers offensively. They looked out of sync in trying to get the ball into the post for Embiid, on top of putting up some ugly shots. They shot just 8-of-21 and went four minutes without a field goal before it was ended by a Paul Reed turn-around jumper of all things.
  • Atlanta did not share the same struggles out of the gate. It shot 57 percent in the opening frame and ended the quarter on an 18-5 run. It was a fairly balanced attack, as Trae Young dished out five of his 10 assists in the first.
  • For the second straight night, the Sixers ended the first quarter with a buzzer beater. Two nickels isn’t a lot, but it’s weird that it happened twice.

Second quarter

  • A much better quarter from the Sixers defensively in the second, as they held the Hawks to just 21 points. Philly used a ton of zone defense tonight. Nine turnovers from the Hawks certainly helped the Sixers get back in the game. They took 13 more shots than Atlanta in the second. Despite shooting 42 percent, the Sixers went into the break only down four.
  • Offensively, the Sixers slogged through most of the second quarter as well. Tobias Harris was the lone Sixer who shot well in the half, putting up 14 points on 6-of-9 shooting. Joel Embiid picked things up as the quarter wound down. This Euro-step he hit on Onyeka Okongwu was nasty.

Third quarter

  • After a weird first half, Shake Milton got it going in the third quarter. Eleven of his 21 points came in the period and he worked a pretty sound two-man game with Embiid. Milton has been so good at attacking the rim, so it makes sense that it’s easier for him with Embiid popping out at the elbow.
  • Some hot shooting from outside is what kept the Sixers from taking the lead into the fourth. The Hawks shot 5-of-7 from downtown to keep the game all locked at 81.

Fourth quarter

  • There was some truly chaotic basketball down the stretch of this one. De’Anthony Melton banked in a three-pointer from well beyond the line, followed up a couple of possessions later by a Harris three that just barely beat the shot clock. Harris was great all night, but I’m not sure he would have gotten this one off if not for the crowd.
  • As if things weren’t crazy enough, Matisse Thybulle would follow this up with a left-handed layup through contact. Thybulle looked pretty good in his return to the court and Philadelphia was a plus-13 during his eight minutes.
  • They looked sharp for most of the half, but the Sixers reverted back to sloppy offensive play down the stretch of this one. Sometimes, though, having the best player on the court is enough. Embiid scored or assisted on every Sixers basket he was on the floor for during this quarter, hitting the game-winner with 18.6 seconds left over Dejounte Murray. Soon after, he did a phenomenal job to thwart the Hawks’ lob on the ensuing possession.
  • The Sixers will take the court again Wednesday night when they travel to Cleveland to take on the Cavaliers at 7 p.m. EST.

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