The Philadelphia 76ers level the series at 1-1 after cruising to a 118-102 win over the Atlanta Hawks in Game 2.
The Hawks had no answer for Joel Embiid, who followed up his 39-point Game 1 performance with a new playoff career-high 40-point effort tonight. Tobias Harriss added 22 points and Seth Curry 21.
Trae Young and Danilo Gallinari led the Haws with 21 points apiece as they now head back to Atlanta for Game 3.
Let's jump into the key takeaways at the buzzer:
Shortly after Nikola Jokic was named the MVP, Joel Embiid turned in a monster performance, earning MVP chants in his building, dropping 40 points and 13 rebounds on 13-of-25 from the field and 2-of-5 from the 3-point line.
Would stay out of his way. 😳@JoelEmbiid x #NBACommunityAssist pic.twitter.com/V7b4nrDs76- Philadelphia 76ers (@sixers) June 9, 2021
Embiid was at his forceful best, going toe-to-toe with Clint Capela in the paint.
With the Hawks big man battling foul trouble, Embiiid used his size advantage to full effect as he barged his way to the rim, buried jumpers at will and took over the game in the pivotal third quarter scoring 17 of his points in the period.
Harris' fast start
The 76ers raced out to a 13-point lead at the end of the first quarter, thanks largely to the scorching play of Tobias Harris.
Harris went to work in the post, torching any defender the Hawks threw at him as he buried bucket after bucket, attacking the rim with confidence as he simplified his game from the outset.
Just look at this shot chart:
He connected on 8-of-9 from the field with all of his buckets coming in the paint as the 76ers scored 24 of their 33 first-quarter points inside.
Tobias Harris SCORCHING in the 1st Q.- NBA (@NBA) June 9, 2021
🔥 16 PTS
🔥 8-9 FGM@sixers with the early lead on TNT. #NBAPlayoffs pic.twitter.com/imnc7sIrCx
Shake Milton comes alive
The 76ers bench struggled through the first half, but Shake Milton quickly flipped the script.
With Atlanta's reserves outscoring Philly's 32-0 in the opening 24 minutes, behind a combined 30 points from Huerter and Gallinari, the 76ers needed an answer and that answer was Shake Milton.
Milton entered the game with the 76ers holding a 79-78 lead with 2:18 left in the third quarter, pouring in 14 quick points, including four 3-pointers and by the time he was subbed out with 3:36 left in the game, the 76ers were in front 113-97.
After playing just 32 seconds in Game 1, Milton proved to be the difference-maker in Game 2.
SHAKE MILTON HAS IGNITED THE PHILLY CROWD! #ThatsGame- NBA (@NBA) June 9, 2021
He's dropped 14 points since entering the game late in the 3rd quarter, as the @sixers have opened up a 20-point lead on TNT! #NBAPlayoffs pic.twitter.com/gZh3OCqNWs
Sixers make adjustments
After Trae Young torched the 76ers in Game 1 for 35 points (25 in the first half), Doc Rivers gave Ben Simmons the assignment from the jump and the Defensive Player of the Year Finalist was at his disruptive best, blowing up pick-and-rolls, sliding over screens and pressing Young high to get the ball out of his hands.
The Simmons-Embiid tandem cut off the Hawks' offence at its source and while Young had success finding open teammates (11 assists), Philly did a great job contesting shots as he went 6-of-16 from the field and 1-of-7 from the 3-point line.
Ben Simmons blocks Trae Young's 3 pic.twitter.com/IjoIXdfLLg- Jackson Frank (@jackfrank_jjf) June 9, 2021
Simmons recorded seven assists to go with four points on 2-of-3 shooting, as he locked in on the defensive end, making good on his talk after Game 1 to contain Young.
The series shifts to Atlanta for the next two games, with Game 3 scheduled for Friday, June 11 at 7:30 p.m. ET.
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