NBA: Joel Embiid, Shake Milton spark Sixers to Game 2 victory over Hawks

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania – The 76ers’ reserves stepped up just in time.

Joel Embiid of the 76s scored a career play-off high with 40 points and 13 rebounds.
Joel Embiid of the 76s scored a career play-off high with 40 points and 13 rebounds.  © IMAGO / ZUMA Wire

As a result, the Sixers avoided dropping into a two-games-to-none hole to the Atlanta Hawks in the Eastern Conference semifinals.

Sparked by Shake Milton’s 14 points (all in the second half), the Sixers defeated the Atlanta Hawks, 118-102, in Tuesday night’s Game 2 at the Wells Fargo Center.

The best-of-seven series is tied, 1-1, heading into Friday’s Game 3 at the State Farm Arena in Atlanta.

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Joel Embiid finished with a career playoff-high 40 points to go with 13 rebounds. But Milton’s play was vital to the victory.

Milton entered the game with the Sixers clinging to a 79-78 lead with 2 minutes, 46 seconds left in the third quarter. This came after the third-year guard, who lost his spot in the rotation, had played only 32 seconds in Game 1.

On this night, he brought energy and points.

Milton, who played 14:14, made five of his eight shots, including four of six 3-pointers. His first basket, a 3-pointer, marked the Sixers’ first bench points of the game. His presence appeared to lift the Sixers’ other reserves, as Dwight Howard, George Hill, and Matisse Thybulle went on to score points.

By the time Milton was subbed out for the first time, with 3:36 left in the game, the Sixers had a 113-97 lead.

The Sixers took an early lead

Atlanta's Trae Young scored 21 points.
Atlanta's Trae Young scored 21 points.  © Collage: IMAGO / ZUMA Wire

By the time Milton was subbed out for the first time, with 3:36 left in the game, the Sixers had a 113-97 lead.

Tobias Harris had 22 points, while Seth Curry added 21.

Meanwhile, Atlanta standout Trae Young had 21 points on 6-for-16 shooting.

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The Sixers tried to send a message early.

Harris was out to spark his teammates while Ben Simmons was out to contain Young.

Both players were successful as the Sixers dominated all 12 minutes of the first quarter.

Harris scored 16 points on 8-for-9 shooting. Meanwhile, Simmons, at 6-foot-10, caused problems for the 6-1 Young. As result, the Hawks point guard was held to four points on 1-for-4 shooting in the quarter. In Game 1, Young scored 12 of his 35 points in the first quarter while being guarded by Danny Green.

Philly took a 33-20 advantage in the second quarter, scoring 24 of their points in the paint.

The Sixers started the game by making five of their first six shots for a 10-2 lead. Harris led the charge with six points. The Sixers’ hot start led to Atlanta coach Nate McMillan calling a timeout 2:34 into the game.

After the Hawks scored a basket, Harris continued where he left off.

The power forward scored on a 2-foot layup, a 1-footer, and 9-foot turnaround jumper to make it a 16-4 game. Curry and Embiid added baskets to put the Sixers up, 20-4. Green’s 3 put the Sixers up, 23-6, forcing the Hawks to call a second timeout.

Philly extended its lead to 18 points on a Simmons dunk. The Sixers shot 60% in the first quarter.

The second half was competitive

As good as the Sixers were in the first quarter, the Hawks opened the second on a 13-2 run to close the gap to 35-33 with 7:48 left before intermission.

The game was competitive the rest of the half.

Things got a little testy after Embiid was called for an offensive foul while being guarded by Danilo Gallinari with a minute left before intermission. The two received technical fouls for the brief altercation as Embiid took his seat on the bench after picking up his third foul.

The Sixers ended the half clinging to a 57-55 lead.

Unlike the starters, the bench got off to a bad start.

The Hawks, led by Kevin Huerter and Gallinari, owned a 32-0 mismatch in bench points in the first half. This came after the Hawks broke open Game 1 with a 17-0 run when Sixers coach Doc Rivers went to an all-bench lineup.

The Hawks took their first lead on Young’s foul shots with 2:41 left in third quarter. Milton ended the bench drought with a 3-pointer 22 seconds later for an 82-80 lead. At the time, the Hawks led, 37-3, in bench points. Then Thybulle scored on the next possession to put them up by four.

Milton drained a 3-pointer at the third-quarter buzzer to put the Sixers up, 91-84.

Cover photo: IMAGO / ZUMA Wire

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