The Philadelphia 76ers were on the brink of elimination as they did battle on the road against the Atlanta Hawks in game 6. The contest proved gritty and physical with emotions running incredibly hot for both teams. The Sixers trailed at halftime, but demonstrated a lot of fight with a run in the third quarter to take the lead. While the game remained extremely tight the rest of the way, key lineups trotted out by Coach Rivers, including the guard combo of George Hill and rookie Tyrese Maxey, fended off a late surge by the Hawks. Ultimately, the Sixers emerged victorious, forcing a game 7 on their home court after the 104-99 result.
Seth Curry continued his hot shooting stretch as he nearly single-handedly took over the game in the third quarter. His three point shooting prowess was the catalyst to a 14-0 Sixers run and all told the younger Curry had 24 points on 8-14 FG (6-9 from three). Joel Embiid and Tobias Harris were the other primary scorers for the Sixers with the former going for 22 points and 13 rebounds and the latter for 24 points and 5 rebounds. However, Embiid was not as dominant as expected and did flash a mortal side to his game, only shooting 9-24 from the field and also having 8 turnovers.
The surprisingly stellar play from Tyrese Maxey is another undoubtedly key takeaway from game 6. Coach Rivers was quick to take Ben Simmons out of the game in the fourth quarter when the Hawks predictably started to employ the “hack-a-Simmons” strategy. Tyrese Maxey answered his coach’s call admirably, scoring 16 points (5-12 FG) and grabbing 7 rebounds in 29 minutes of action. His playing time was by far his high mark of any game during this series. He, along with George Hill, also helped contain Trae Young on the defensive end while both Simmons and Thybulle were off the floor.
As the Sixers have continually learned this series, one can “contain” but not totally thwart the offensive efforts of Trae Young. He took a staggering 30 shots in this game, hitting 13 of them en route to 34 points, 12 assists, and 5 rebounds. But the rest of his roster couldn’t provide enough firepower to close out the Sixers. Both Bogdan Bogdanovic (3-11 FG) and Lou Williams (0-5) had poor shooting efforts, though Danilo Gallinari turned back his own clock and contributed multiple clutch buckets in the fourth quarter.
While the Sixers did get the win, they still have a Simmons-sized problem on their hands. His minutes were eclipsed by Tyrese Maxey in this game, and while that strategy happened to work, who knows if it is sustainable for game 7. Simmons’ fouls nearly outnumbered his points in game 6. While his defense, rebounding, and playmaking were still helpful to the team, he will need to play with a more aggressive scoring punch in the final game of the series.
Game 7 of this wildly exciting series will take place in Philadelphia on Sunday, June 20th at 8 PM. Expect emotions to be even higher, defense to be even tighter, and for both squads to be feeling the pressure of elimination.