Both Eastern Conference second-round series will go the distance. The 76ers, coming off a collapse of epic proportion in Game 5, lived to see another day, stealing Game 6 in Atlanta Friday night on the strength of 24 points from Seth Curry, who lit it up from long range with six three-pointers on nine attempts. Trailing by four at the break, Philadelphia came out firing in the second half, opening the third quarter on a furious 14-0 run. As they’ve done all series, the Hawks made Philly sweat, trimming the Sixers’ lead to one with 1:59 remaining. But this time, Doc Rivers’ team didn’t fold, surviving Atlanta’s late charge in a thoroughly entertaining 104-99 victory.
Embattled point guard Ben Simmons was largely a non-factor for Philadelphia, tallying just six points on 2-of-6 shooting while spending much of the evening in foul trouble. Fortunately, the top-seeded Sixers received strong contributions from Tobias Harris (who redeemed himself after his disappointing Game 5) and Tyrese Maxey, whose 16 points off the bench represented a new playoff career-high for the rookie guard out of Kentucky. Joel Embiid, operating at much less than 100 percent (he’s coming off a torn meniscus suffered in Round 1), chipped in with 22 points, albeit on ugly 9-of-24 shooting with eight turnovers.
Despite it being a relatively low-scoring affair, Game 6 packed plenty of action, featuring a fourth-quarter dustup between Joel Embiid and John Collins (who posterized the Sixers seven-footer with a seismic, one-handed flush earlier in the half) and some technical difficulties with the lights at State Farm Arena, prompting a delay of several minutes.
Trae Young remained the Hawks’ primary source of offense, piling on 34 points including 20 in the first half. Though it wasn’t the most efficient evening for the talented 22-year-old (just 13-of-30 from the field), many of Young's shots were of the highlight-reel variety, including an exhilarating, (though admittedly reckless) 35-foot jumper from just inside the center-court logo. Atlanta left plenty of points on the table in this one, receiving little bench production outside of Danilo Gallinari (16 points) while also struggling at the line, converting just 13 of 24 free-throw attempts (54.2 percent).
Stealing a winner-take-all Game 7 on the road is a tough assignment already for Atlanta. Climbing that mountain would be even more daunting without the help of long-range marksmen Bogdan Bogdanovic, who exited Friday night’s game with right knee soreness. The Hawks and Sixers will meet once more in Sunday’s series finale in Philadelphia, with that game slated to tip off at 8 PM ET. The winner will advance to the Eastern Conference Finals, where they'll oppose either the Nets or Bucks, who are staging their own Game 7 Saturday night in Brooklyn.