Atlanta tops Philadelphia in Game 7 to advance to Eastern Conference finals

The Atlanta Hawks defeated the Philadelphia 76ers 103-96 on Sunday to advance to the Eastern Conference Finals for the first time since 2015. The Game 7 loss sent the No. 1 seed home early after one of the most bitterly disappointing series losses in recent memory. The 76ers blew enormous leads in Games 4 and 5, and now, they’ve blown the series as well.

As he has throughout the series, Joel Embiid led the charge for the 76ers on the offensive end of the floor as he finished with a team-high 31 points to go along with 11 rebounds. On the other side, Trae Young struggled mightily finding his shot in this one but Kevin Huerter picked up the slack in a major way, finishing with 27 points. While the Sixers were favored entering the matchup, it was Atlanta that was able to finish the job and knock off the top seed in Game 7.

With the win, the Hawks advance on to face the Milwaukee Bucks in the Eastern Conference finals with Game 1 of that series scheduled for Wednesday night at 8:30 p.m. ET at Fiserv Forum. Here are the three biggest takeaways from Game 7.

1. Sorry Simmons

Ben Simmons’ night, and really, his series, can be encapsulated by a single moment. With 3:30 left in the fourth quarter and his team trailing by two, Simmons spun around Danilo Gallinari and had a wide open dunk sitting there for him. This is what he did.

Whether it was a fear of being fouled and having to take free throws or simply a poor decision, we can’t say. But Matisse Thybulle missed one of the free throws generated by that poor decision. That’s a free point down the drain. Simmons gave up plenty of them. He attempted only four shots in this game and 45 in the series. More distressingly, he took only three shots in the fourth quarter in seven games against the Hawks. Ironically, he made all of them.

It’s hard not to think of all …

Trae Young, Atlanta survive Game 1 after Joel Embiid, Philly storm back late

The Philadelphia 76ers and Atlanta Hawks tipped off their second-round series at the Wells Fargo Center on Sunday afternoon after both teams made short work of their opening-round opponents. If Game 1 was any indication, the series promises to be a lot tougher for both teams. The Hawks ultimately pulled out a 128-124 victory, but it was far from easy for them.

After dominating the first 24 minutes of the contest and taking a 20-point lead into halftime, the Hawks had their hands full in the second half as the Sixers made a furious comeback to cut the lead all the way down to three in the closing minutes of the contest. Despite being outscored 70-54 in the second half, Atlanta was able to hold on for the win, though coach Nate McMillan likely won’t be happy with his team’s play down the stretch of the game.


Just as he did against the New York Knicks in the first round, Trae Young led the way for Atlanta, especially early on. Young lit the Sixers up for 25 points and seven assists in the first half alone, and finished the game with 35 points and 10 assists. In the process, Young became the first Hawks player ever to record 35 points and 10 assists in a playoff game. He also got some major help from John Collins and Bogdan Bogdanović, as that duo combined for 42 points and eight rebounds.

One huge question regarding the series was answered before Game 1 even started: Would Joel Embiid play? He did, despite suffering a small tear in his meniscus against the Wizards. Embiid started for the Sixers, played a game-high 38 minutes and scored a game-high 39 points to go along with nine rebounds, four assists and three blocks. While Sixers fans were certainly happy to see him out on the floor, his production wasn’t quite enough to help Philadelphia pull out a win in this one.

Even though they almost gave it away at the end, the Hawks have to feel …