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76ers Slam Hawks 121-113 in postseason tune-up: Philadelphia sets franchise record with 15th consecutive win

     An electric finish played out in the Philips Arena as the Atlanta Hawks tried to win their last regular season game against the Philadelphia 76ers. Despite the game’s closeness, the 76ers would prove to be too good offensively for Atlanta and leave the Hawks defeated at home.

     The pressure was most certainly on Philadelphia as they needed last night’s win as well as a win tonight against the Milwaukee Bucks to keep their third-place seed in the Eastern Conference. Philadelphia has had a great season thus far, coming into the game with a record of 50-30 compared to Atlanta’s 24-57. This game would be significant for the Hawks as well, as it was the last game played in the Philips Arena before a renovation, and they were hoping to finish their season with a win.

     The game’s first quarter began with both teams finding success, getting points inside. Atlanta took an early lead, finding easy points off stolen passes and mistakes from Philadelphia. They also proved to be a threat from the outside, making quick work of contested and uncontested field goals combined with three-point shooting.

     While down but not out, Philadelphia used the strength of their outside shooters to keep up with the offensive dynamite of Atlanta. They played a little too fast however, as multiple passes got stolen and shots were taken too quickly. Atlanta had a clear advantage, shooting with a 56% success-of-shot ratio, compared to Philadelphia’s 42%. Tyler Dorsey off the bench for Atlanta, would prove to be a key shooting threat. He would go on to make 17 points, two rebounds, and one assist. The first quarter ended with Atlanta holding a 32-27 lead.

     The second quarter of the game saw a rise in the Philadelphia offense, as they were able to retake the lead by the nine-minute mark, leading 41-36. As the game got more intense, the physicality of these teams became more apparent as both teams were getting fouls and sending players to the line.
Atlanta’s biggest problem was the inability to stop the outside shooting from Philadelphia. Calling a timeout at 6:05 when down nine, the Hawks had to do something. Atlanta was able to fire back on a commanding 8-0 run, leading to both teams tied with only two minutes and forty seconds left. Philadelphia had no intention of letting them keep that tie, as their offense led them into a halftime lead of 61-55.

     Coming out of the break, it was clear neither team was out of this game. Philadelphia had changed their play style slightly, keeping ball movements and shots more conservative in an effort to hold the lead. Their standout player for the game would be JJ Reddick, as he scored 28 points, four rebounds, and five assists.

     Atlanta was still posing a threat as the third wound down, scoring quick points inside and using good ball movement to make it a two-point game with only about seven minutes left. Philadelphia was able to hold the lead with a strong defensive effort blocking shots inside, but failing from the three-point line. Atlanta had shot 27 threes at this point. The 76ers maintained their lead by the end of the quarter, going into the fourth up 89-79.

     The game’s fourth quarter proved to be the most intense of them all as Atlanta put up one last-ditch effort to retake the game. Philadelphia was missing offensive opportunities which allowed Atlanta to capitalize on their mistakes. A combination of a 7-0 run with very successful three-point shooting kept the Hawks hope alive. The Hawks’ player Taurean Waller-Prince would prove to be a huge threat for the Philadelphia defense, scoring 27 points with four rebounds and six assists.

     It was a nail-biting last minute as Atlanta was trying anything to take the game. With only 25 seconds left, the Hawks faced a deficit of five points, but without any timeouts were unable to stop Philadelphia and lost 121-113. This win set a record for Philadelphia as they have never won 15 straight games in franchise history.

     As the season comes to an end, the Sixers hold sole possession of the third seed in the Eastern Conference. and barring any major changes in the next few days, will take on the Milwaukee Bucks in the first round of the playoffs.

     With Joel Embiid missing the first few games of the series, it will be interesting to see how the Sixers deal with the size and strength of Giannis Antetokounmpo.


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Connor McKay, Sports Editor

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