After losing a true stunner on their home floor in a Game 7 that was anything but predictable for countless reasons, the 76ers have now failed to reach the conference finals for the 20th consecutive season. The No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference lost 103-96 to a Hawks team that, at times during the regular season, hardly seemed worthy of the entry tournament. Here are some thoughts on a game that will irrevocably alter the trajectory of both franchises.
Trae Young is fearless
Kevin Huerter scored a team-high 27 points and spent most of the night abusing Sixers guard Seth Curry (whose unreal outside shot was nearly neutralized by a pitiful defense throughout the series). Huerter never flinched, either spinning in the middle around a DHO or setting up a much smaller defender. On a night when Atlanta’s normal number two (Bogdan Bogdanovic) was hampered by knee pain, Huerter filled the void with ease.
In nearly 42 minutes, John Collins continued to embrace his role as an energetic do-it-all, securing 16 rebounds, generating several key fouls, freeing his teammates with a round of hard screens, and delivering the relentless physique that this Los Angeles team. Hawks urgently needs. Apart from a late brain fart That forced Atlanta to burn a timeout was sensational.
Clint Capela was a dependable lob threat who did a decent job keeping Joel Embiid on the perimeter, while nearly everyone on the Hawks’ bench (including rookie center Onyeka Okungwu) kept their composure in a hostile environment with their season at stake. .
The victory was a team effort, especially considering Trae Young’s porous shot. (He finished 5 of 23 and 1 of 12 at halftime.) Yet somehow, the Hawks franchise point guard emerged from the most important game of his life as a guiding light, silencing the crowd from 28 feet with his team. until three and only 2:31 on the clock.
Young’s pick-and-roll magic deserves a standing ovation and the way he took advantage of Philadelphia’s sloppy transitional defense over and over again was brilliant. There aren’t five players alive who do a better job of getting out of a seemingly hopeless situation than Young; thrive in chaos.
But there is something in those three that will not be soon forgotten. It was bold. It was absurd. It was the kind of shot that great players do and do in gigantic moments because, well, they are great players. Young may not have been the best player on his team tonight, but he always acted like he was. And that’s a big reason the Hawks won.
Ben Simmons is not fearless
On the other side of the fence is Ben Simmons, who once again shot, hit and missed zero field goals in the fourth quarter of an important basketball game. Simmons finished with 12 assists, but anyone using that stat to spin his impact in a positive way probably didn’t see the game. It was more inappropriate than bad, which is even more damning.
exist favorable lineup numbers That can be deduced from the first six games in the series, but those also don’t do justice to Simmons’ undeniable offensive flaws, which steadily increase during the stretches that really matter. Its value is not misunderstood. Your skill set is not underrated. For most of Game 7, he stood in the dunk spot, watching Embiid face Capela from the free throw line, Curry running around for a dribble pass, or Tobias Harris isolated on the wing for another hard look: cramps on the floor, squeezing oxygen from an offense that never had higher gear than they were during the regular season.
One of the defining plays of the game Came with three and a half minutes to go, when Simmons spun around Danilo Gallinari on the baseline. The only body standing between him and the edge was Young. According to the laws of physics, a dive has never felt more inevitable. Instead, Simmons passed it to Matisse Thybulle, who was fouled and went 1-for-2 from the free throw line.
After the game, Simmons said he made the pass because he thought Rooster was “coming from my back,” but it’s hard to believe he wasn’t worried about getting hacked and then having to stand on the free throw line where he has barely been hit a third. of his free throws this postseason. Whatever the excuse, Simmons’s never-improving deficiencies were somehow the main cause.
At some point, it doesn’t matter how imposing you are on the defensive side, or how easily you set up your teammates in transition. As the second All-Star on a team that has championship aspirations or failure, plays, quarters and series like the one Simmons just had, where he took fewer shots than Furkan Korkmaz, are not enough.
This is not to suggest that the entire loss is Simmons’ fault, just as Atlanta’s win is not just due to Young. (Embiid’s eight turnovers were a bit troublesome.) But it’s also hard not to contrast these two bases and how they responded to adversity in a meaningful place. One stepped back. The other stepped forward. Game 7 may not be Simmons’ last night in a Sixers uniform. But assuming the organization is serious about winning it all / not wasting Embiid’s best moment, it might have to be.
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Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.