The Philadelphia 76ers got another big performance from Joel Embiid on Wednesday night. After scoring a then playoff career-high 39 points in Game 1, Embiid came back and set a new playoff career-high with 40 points and 13 rebounds in Game 2 of their Eastern Conference second-round matchup against the Atlanta Hawks.
However, the 76ers needed an unlikely hero to defeat Atlanta on Wednesday night.
With Philadelphia trailing 80-79 late in the third quarter, 76ers head coach Doc Rivers inserted Shake Milton, who has struggled during the playoffs. Milton proceeded to score six points in the third, including a 35-foot buzzer-beater to end the quarter, and scored eight more points in the fourth to finish with 14 points as the 76ers defeated Atlanta 118-102 at Wells Fargo Center to even the series at 1.
In 15 minutes of action, Milton was 5/8 from the field, including four threes.
Milton appeared to be out of the rotation, and before his explosion on Wednesday night, the third-year guard averaged 2.8 points per game while shooting 21% from the field in the playoffs. Despite his struggles, Rivers was impressed by Milton’s preparation.
“He prepared himself, and he believed that he would get another shot, and he got it,” Rivers said about Milton. “He gave us a huge lift. Very happy for him, personally.”
Tobias Harris, who scored 22 points in Game 2, was also happy for Milton.
“I’m extremely happy for him,” he said. “Happy and proud at the same time… For him, he’s been in and out of the rotation a bit in the playoffs, struggling a bit at times. But, he’s steadily in the gym, waiting for that moment, that opportunity. Here it came, and he took advantage of it”
In the first half, the Hawks’ bench outscored Philly’s bench 32-0, but the second half was a much different story for the 76ers, who had 26 bench points in the second half, which was a big reason Philadelphia was able to push the lead to as many as 21 points in the fourth.
Game 3 is Friday night in Atlanta.
In Game 1, Trae Young, guarded mainly by Danny Green, was tough to stop for Philadelphia as he scored 35 points and dished out 10 assists. However, in Game 2, the 76ers used the 6-11, Ben Simmons, to guard the 6-1 Young, and it worked. Young was just 6/16 from the field with 21 points and 11 assists.
As they enter Game 3, it should be interesting to see what the Hawks will do to get Young going. It also should be interesting to see how both teams will respond as the scene shifts to State Farm Arena for Games 3 and 4.
-Kevin Huerter and Danilo Gallinari gave the Hawks a big boost in the first half on Wednesday night. Both Gallinari and Huerter scored 15 points apiece in the first half. Gallinari finished the game with 21 points, and Huerter added 20.
-Seth Curry scored 21 points for the 76ers in Game 2, including 5/8 from three-point range.