Sixers, Hawks advance in NBA playoffs
LOS ANGELES – The Philadelphia 76ers and Atlanta Hawks advanced to an Eastern Conference semi-final showdown on Wednesday, wrapping up emphatic series victories over the Washington Wizards and New York Knicks.
Seth Curry’s 30-point display helped the Sixers shrug off the injury absence of Joel Embiid as the top seeds completed a 4-1 playoff series win with a 129-112 defeat of the Wizards in Philadelphia.
In New York, the fifth-seeded Hawks brought the Knicks’ season to an end with a 103-89 victory at Madison Square Garden to clinch the best-of-seven series 4-1 after a bruising contest.
The Sixers and Hawks will now meet for a place in the Eastern Conference finals.
The Sixers had been jolted by news earlier Wednesday that influential big Embiid had suffered a torn meniscus in his right knee after an awkward fall in game four on Monday.
But Doc Rivers’ side took care of business with a composed performance that sees them advance to an Eastern Conference semi-final showdown against either the Atlanta Hawks or New York Knicks.
“It was a great team win,” Sixers coach Rivers said afterward. “I just love how we played. We got down early, but no panic set in.
“They really believed they were the better team today. They played with that kind of confidence. It was what you would call an all hands in, team win for sure.”
After a tight first half, Philadelphia pulled clear in the third period, outscoring the Wizards 38-31.
Another burst of scoring midway through the fourth period sealed the contest, with Curry, Ben Simmons and Tobias Harris scoring six unanswered points to put Philadelphia 118-100 ahead with just under six minutes to play.
Harris finished with 28 points while Simmons completed a triple double with 19 points, 10 rebounds and 11 assists. Dwight Howard, Tyrese Maxey and Furkan Korkmaz also made double figures.
Rivers reserved praise for Simmons performance. “I keep saying it — stick with him, he’s a hell of a player,” Rivers said. “He just does so much for the team, he really does.”
Bradley Beal led the Wizards scoring with 32 points while Russell Westbrook was unable to add another triple double to his season tally, falling just short with 24 points, 10 assists and eight rebounds.
In New York, Trae Young delivered a 36-point masterclass for Atlanta in an ill-tempered victory at the Garden.
Players from both sides scuffled as they left the court at half-time in a game peppered with technical fouls.
Young led the Atlanta scorers with support from De’Andre Hunter (15 points) and John Collins (13). Clint Capela weighed in with 14 points and 15 rebounds.
Julius Randle led the Knicks scoring with 23 points while R.J. Barrett had 17 points.