The Atlanta Hawks look to extend their streak of good fortune at home on Friday when they host the Philadelphia 76ers in Game 3 of their Eastern Conference semifinal series.
The Hawks, who split the first two games in Philadelphia, have won 13 in a row in Atlanta since a 120-109 loss to the Milwaukee Bucks on April 15.
“I hope the fans are ready to rock the house on Friday,” said star guard Trae Young, who scored 26 points Jan. 11 in the Hawks’ 112-94 victory over the 76ers in Atlanta. That was the only meeting of the teams at Peach State this season.
Young, however, was limited to 21 points Tuesday, and the Hawks were unable to contain Joel Embiid for the second straight game in Philadelphia’s 118-102 win.
“The series is just 1-1. There’s nothing to be really happy about,” said Embiid, who is averaging 39.5 points and 11.0 rebounds in the first two games.
“We have to go there and try to win both and take one at a time.”
While Embiid said he’s not happy, consider Atlanta coach Nate McMillan’s emotions after watching 6-foot-10, 17-stone forward Clint Capela prove he’s no match for the 7-foot-20 Sixers star. stones.
“(Embiid) is digging too deep; our double teams aren’t coming fast enough. He’s practically taking advantage of the deep post up, hitting the free throw line and scoring,” McMillan said.
“We have to fix that. He’s pretty much gotten away with the first two games on the block.”
The Hawks took another hit with Wednesday’s announcement that forward De’Andre Hunter missed the rest of the playoffs due to a lateral meniscus tear in his right knee.
“We absolutely miss him. We certainly are a better baseball club when he’s on the court with us, because he just does a lot of things,” McMillan said of Hunter. “Not only can he defend multiple positions, but he’s also an option on the offensive side of the court.”
Hunter, who missed the first two games against the Sixers, averaged 10.8 points and 4.0 rebounds during the first-round series against the Knicks.
Philadelphia saw an improvement on their perimeter shots in Game 2, with Seth Curry and Shake Milton combining to make 9 of 11 shots from 3-point range. The 76ers shot 46.2 percent from beyond the arc in Game 2, compared to just 34.5 percent in Game 1 of the series.
Young followed up a solid shooting performance in Game 1 by making just 6 of 16 shots from the floor and 1 of 7 from 3-point range on Tuesday.
Ben Simmons, who finished second to Utah’s Rudy Gobert as Defensive Player of the Year, freely traded with Matisse Thybulle while defending Young in Game 2.
“Bringing Young down is not good for any team, and he did it too much (in Game 1),” 76ers coach Doc Rivers said. “So we have to slide it a bit. That’s not really more physical. That’s just the body position.”