The Philadelphia 76ers took a 2-1 lead in their Eastern Conference second-round playoff series after taking down the host Atlanta Hawks 127-111 on Friday in State Farm Arena.
Philadelphia center Joel Embiid's 27 points guided six 76ers in double digits. He and Ben Simmons each posted 11 points in a third quarter that featured Philadelphia outscoring Atlanta 34-19 en route to a 95-75 lead going into the final 12 minutes.
The 76ers, who shot 58.2 percent from the field, never led by fewer than 13 in the fourth quarter.
Trae Young's 28 points paced the Hawks. John Collins added 23 points on 10-of-14 shooting. Atlanta struggled shooting from deep, however, hitting just 6-of-23 three-point shots.
The 76ers are now two wins away from their first Eastern Conference Finals appearance since 2001.
76ers C Joel Embiid: 27 points, 9 rebounds, 8 assists
76ers PF Tobias Harris: 22 points, 8 rebounds, 5 assists
76ers PG Ben Simmons: 18 points, 7 assists, 4 rebounds
Hawks PG Trae Young: 28 points, 8 assists, 2 steals
Hawks PF John Collins: 23 points, 7 rebounds
Hawks C Clint Capela: 8 points, 16 rebounds, 2 steals
Simmons' Fantastic 3rd Quarter Puts Game Away
Simmons started the second half on fire, as Rich Hofmann of The Athletic noted:
He had 11 points and three assists in the first eight minutes and played excellent defense too.
Simmons snuck behind Hawks forward Solomon Hill for this alley-oop layup:
On the 76ers' next possession, Simmons found shooting guard Seth Curry with a cross-court pass, and he responded with a corner three to kickstart an 11-0 run:
Simmons, who received his previous alley-oop feed from Embiid, returned the favor for his co-star later in the quarter:
He also took care of business himself, throwing down a ferocious jam:
Overall, Simmons led a sensational third-quarter effort that effectively put the game out of reach, with Derek Bodner of The Athletic providing some relevant details.
The success was courtesy of a few factors.
For starters, Simmons took advantage of some mismatches, with Hawks forward Danilo Gallinari struggling to contain the guard, as Kyle Neubeck of Philly Voice noted:
Simmons' aggression also played a key role, which Michael Kaskey-Blomain of CBS Sports tweeted about:
On the other end, the 76ers' excellent defense led to quality offensive opportunities. An 11-0 third-quarter run turned a close 65-60 game into a commanding 76-60 lead, and that span featured five missed shots and a turnover from the Hawks. Of note, Young also scored just two third-quarter points.
Atlanta cut into Philadelphia's lead a bit in the fourth, but the 76er lead was never seriously threatened. Simmons played a pivotal role in that effort, and now, Philadelphia is one step closer to an Eastern Conference Finals appearance.
Hawks Offense Held in Check
Atlanta had no answers for Simmons and Embiid, particularly in a third quarter that saw Philadelphia outscore the Hawks by 15 points.
The onus, therefore, was on the Hawks to try to keep pace offensively in a track meet.
That did not happen.
The Hawks needed Young to play the part of a superhero to win this one. He has largely been sensational in this year's playoffs and averaged 30.2 points per game through his first six contests, and ESPN Stats & Info shouted out his efforts before Friday's game began.
However, he's (mostly) been held in check ever since Philadelphia made some defensive adjustments before Game 2 of this series. 76ers reporter Lauren Rosen quoted Philadelphia reserve guard George Hill, who complimented Simmons' efforts after Game 2.
Young is seeing more of Simmons, and that's clearly had an effect on his play. In Game 2, he shot just 6-of-16.
In Game 3, he went just 1-of-3 with two points and a turnover in a 76ers pivotal third quarter that gave Philadelphia a commanding edge.
Young did score 16 in the first half and added 10 more in the fourth as he continued to pile up the points, but it wasn't enough to keep pace with Philadelphia's efficient attack.
The Hawks largely struggled outside Young though.
Atlanta shot just 26.1 percent from three-point range. Outside Young, the team went just 3-of-17.
The Hawks also had just 20 first-quarter points and 19 in the third, and Philadelphia reserves also outscored the Atlanta bench 48-32.
Ultimately, Friday wasn't Atlanta's night, but this series is far from over as the matchup now moves to Game 4.
Atlanta will host Game 4 on Monday at 7:30 p.m. ET.