Sixers

3 storylines to watch as Sixers look to grab 3-1 series lead in Atlanta

Sixers

By the end of Monday night, the Sixers will either be a win away from the Eastern Conference Finals or about to start what would essentially be a best-of-three series. 

Danny Green is out with a right calf strain and Joel Embiid (small right lateral meniscus tear) is again listed as questionable for Game 4 of the Sixers' second-round matchup with the Hawks at State Farm Arena. 

The game is scheduled to tip off at 7:30 p.m. ET on TNT, with Sixers Pregame Live at 7 on NBCSP. Sixers Postgame Live will air on NBCSP following the game. 

Here are three storylines to watch: 

Ripple effects of Green’s injury 

We’ll learn at some stage before tip-off who the Sixers are starting in Green’s spot. Sixers head coach Dic Rivers didn’t want to discuss that topic much Sunday afternoon, though Furkan Korkmaz and Matisse Thybulle sounded like the two possibilities.

Green suffered his injury during Game 3 and is out for at least two weeks. Beyond the immediate question of the newest starter, the Sixers need to consider which players will see more time than usual, how they’ll match up defensively and more. 

A silver lining of Green’s injury is that he wasn’t featured in the Sixers’ offense, and the team theoretically has players who can combine to approximate his production. Losing a two-way, veteran wing and breaking up a starting lineup that’s been tremendous is significant, though.

 

Harris’ steadiness 

Tobias Harris has scored 20 or more points in seven of the Sixers’ eight playoff games. He’s shot over 50 percent from the floor in seven of the eight postseason games, too. 

His consistency, rebounding and improved defense and passing have all been valuable, even if Harris hasn’t been in the spotlight a ton since scoring 37 points in the Sixers’ Round 1, Game 1 win over the Wizards. 

In his 13th NBA season, George Hill had high praise for Harris’ leadership.

“I would list him right now as one of my favorite teammates ever,” Hill said Sunday. “He’s a great guy, great teammate to be around. He has a great awareness of how things are going. He’s very open-minded. He listens. Just a great guy to be around. I think he’s a great leader for us and we’re going to continue to lean on him as we go through this journey.”

Was start of series an anomaly? 

Since being outscored by 20 points in the first half of Game 1, the Sixers have scored 48 more points than Atlanta. As long as Embiid is healthy, they’ve appeared to be the superior team by a comfortable margin. 

After a 20-for-47 afternoon from three-point range in Game 1, the Hawks went 11 for 30 in Game 2 and 6 for 23 on Friday. 

“I think ultimately, (guarding the three-point line) was just a point of emphasis,” Thybulle said Sunday. “Anyone who watched the first game saw how lackadaisical we came out in the first half. It’s hard to compare any of these games to the first game because the first half was so bad on our end, especially defensively. It’s hard to even say what we did. We’re just playing a lot better, a lot more locked in.”