The Philadelphia 76ers took a 2-1 series lead after defeating the Atlanta Hawks 127-111 in Game 3 on Friday. The Sixers have done a better job containing Trae Young and the rest of the deep Hawks rotation since Game 1, and Joel Embiid has proven to be the difference-maker despite playing on a torn meniscus.
Atlanta was able to steal Game 1, but we haven’t seen them compete particularly well since then. Young has done his best, but the rest of the team has been rather inconsistent. They’ll have to do everything they can to avoid a 3-1 deficit in the series, which would be detrimental to the Hawks’ postseason hopes.
For Atlanta to get back into this series after two ugly losses, some adjustments will have to be made for Game 4. Here are three things the Hawks must do in order to tie the series up at 2-2.
1. Vastly improve the 3-point shooting
Atlanta shot a measly 26.1% from beyond the arc in Game 3, which is just unacceptable. This Hawks squad usually does well from deep, especially with Trae Young leading the way. Considering this is where the Hawks typically thrive, they have to improve in this area to even out the series.
Look for the Hawks to get the 3-point shot going in Game 4. Their best bet will be to get Young going, but his teammates need to step up too. The coaching staff will be looking to get Bogdan Bogdanović, Kevin Huerter, and Danilo Gallinari going early and often from long distance.
2. Dominate the battle of the boards
Atlanta has done a decent job of rebounding against the Sixers, but outright winning the rebound battle will go a long way for the home team. Clint Capela has been a beast on the boards, especially in Game 3 when he recorded 16 of them. The Hawks were one of the better teams in the NBA in rebounding during the regular season, but the numbers haven’t been as impressive in the playoffs and Capela could use some assistance on the glass.
John Collins had a nice bounce-back performance, but he could still improve in rebounding. If Collins can become a more aggressive player, his development will skyrocket as well. His presence down low could be the difference-maker in Game 4, as he has all of the tools necessary to be a star in the NBA.
3. Slow down Ben Simmons
Ben Simmons hasn’t been a prolific scorer, but he’s dominating this series anyway. His efficiency is through the roof and he’s playing smothering defense against Trae Young. We’re watching Simmons perform at his best and it’s killing the Hawks in this series. Atlanta must find a way to slow him down, otherwise, the 76ers could pull away 3-1 on Monday night.
Simmons is not a threat from deep, so the Hawks don’t have to worry about his 3-point shooting. He’s big and one of the best scorers around the rim, though, which is causing problems for Atlanta. The Hawks’ best bet will be to double-team him when he gets down low and ease off him when he’s around the perimeter.