3 observations: Trae Young, Hawks rally past Sixers in Game 5 on the road

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The Philadelphia 76ers and the Atlanta Hawks returned to the City of Brotherly Love on Wednesday with a 2-2 split through the first four games. As the series moves forward, the games get much more important and in this one, the Sixers understood the assignment. Well, they did at first.

Philadelphia built a 26-point lead and it looked as if they would cruise to an easy win, but in the playoffs, it is never easy. The Hawks continued to dig deep and they were able to rally and shock the Sixers with a 109-106 win to take a 3-2 lead back to Atlanta. Trae Young led the Hawks with 39 points and seven assists.

Joel Embiid was terrific as he had 17 points in the first quarter on his way to 37 and 13 rebounds to lead Philadelphia, Seth Curry added 36 and six rebounds, Furkan Korkmaz had eight, and Ben Simmons had eight and nine assists.

Here are the observations following a bad loss to the Hawks:

Ball movement returns...then goes away

Rivers was upset with his team after Game 4 for not moving the ball which led to their lack of offense in the second half of the loss. Philadelphia had seven assists in the entire second half of Game 4, but they had eight assists alone in the first quarter in this one and it led to an early 38-24 lead after one. The ball movement led to Philadelphia shooting 80% from the floor and 5-for-7 from deep in the first quarter. Everybody was able to get a good look and they had a chance to get into a rhythm and impose their will on the game. Then, they went away from what was working. Once again, the Sixers looked sloppy in the second half as they did in Game 4 and it again cost them. They had a huge lead in this game due to playing basketball the way it was supposed to be played and then they went away from that which allowed the Hawks to steal this game. They had 12 assists in the first half while having only eight in the second half.

Defensive issues

Philadelphia uses their defense to fuel their offense on a nightly basis. So many times they will get a stop on the defensive end and then immediately turn that into points on the other end. They had a tough time doing so in Game 4, but they were much more aggressive with their traps on the defensive end and that forced Atlanta into turnovers and rushed shots. The Hawks could not buy a 3-pointer in the first half while the Sixers were scoring easily on their end. Again, all of that went away in the second half. They looked a little confused with the traps as the Hawks blitzed them a bit and Philadelphia did not respond. This was an almost carbon copy form of Game 4 as the Hawks just seemed to outwork the Sixers and they wanted it more. Philadelphia looked as if they were just going to walk away with an easy win and it cost them. Atlanta was constantly beating them to the boards and they received big shots from their big players to come away with this win.

Embiid bounces back

Coach Doc Rivers has a saying that he uses to describe Philadelphia’s offensive philosophy. The saying is “feed the pig” which means keep going to something that is clearly working until the opposition finds a way to stop it. To begin this game, it was clear that Embiid was looking to make a statement after his miserable Game 4 performance as he continued to destroy Clint Capela in the paint. He scored in double-figures in the first quarter to give Philadelphia an early advantage. After putting up one of the worst performances of his career in Game 4, the big fella responded with a huge performance in this one. However, it clearly was not enough. He did force up a lot of bad shots in the fourth quarter and they were not able to overcome his struggles. The Sixers will now have to figure out a way to get it done on the road to force a Game 7.

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