The Philadelphia 76ers and Atlanta Hawks split the first two games of their series in Philadelphia, with the Sixers taking a 2-1 lead with a road win in Atlanta. In Game 4, the Sixers will look to take a 3-1 lead, while the Hawks will look to get back on track to even up the series. Either way, three-point shooting is going to play a significant role in the outcome.
The Philadelphia 76ers won Game 3 127-111, thanks in large part to a solid three-point shooting performance. Philadelphia made 10 threes, shooting 47% from long distance to help propel them to the victory. In addition, Furkan Korkmaz and Seth Curry shot a combined 5-11 from three-point range, continuing the trend of Sixers role players playing some very efficient basketball during this series.
In Game 4, the Sixers will need to continue getting offensive contributions from their role players, but they will need to play better defense if they want to take a 3-1 lead as well. Philadelphia allowed John Collins, Trae Young, and Bogdan Bogdanovic to shoot over 50% from the field, which could cost them Game 4 even if it didn’t cost them Game 3.
The free-throw line is another area that the Sixers will want to improve on to avoid dropping a second game in this series. Doc Rivers’ team missed 14 free throws in Game 3, including 10 free throws from sources other than the erratic Ben Simmons. That kind of inconsistent free-throw shooting may not cost the Sixers in this series but could cost them in the future.
For the Atlanta Hawks, it was the inconsistent play that doomed them in Game 3 of this series. Atlanta scored 36 points in the second and fourth quarters of that game, but they scored 20 points in the first quarter and 19 points in the third quarter to put them behind the eight ball. The Hawks will need better bench production if they want to avoid falling behind 3-1 in this series.
Specifically, the Hawks are going to need more from Lou Williams if they want to avoid falling into a deep hole against the 76ers. Williams scored just eight points in Game 3 against Philly and hasn’t done much since the conclusion of the Hawks’ first-round series win over the Knicks. Against a top-tier team like the Sixers, Williams needs to play like the player that the Hawks traded for in the middle of the season and put up bigger scoring numbers.
The Pick: 76ers -1.5
Right now, the Philadelphia 76ers are just getting more contributions from more players, which often makes the difference in the postseason. Philadelphia’s superior depth will once again make the difference in this game, as they should be able to take down the Hawks and take a 3-1 lead in this series. As long as Joel Embiid remains healthy, this series could be on its way toward ending in five games.