Ben Simmons Confident Sixers Can Bounce Back Game 2 vs. Hawks
The Philadelphia 76ers entered Sunday afternoon's Game 1 matchup against the Atlanta Hawks with everything in their favor. With home-court advantage on their side, the Sixers were favored to take down the fifth-seeded Hawks.
But Atlanta came in ready to play. During the first half, the Hawks achieved a lead as high as 26 points. By halftime, the top-seeded Sixers trailed 20 points. Although the Sixers nearly completed a miraculous comeback in Game 1, they ultimately fell short.
“I think we just waited too long,” said Sixers All-Star Ben Simmons. “They hit us first, and we didn’t hit them back." Although the Sixers found themselves in deep trouble going into halftime, second-half adjustments allowed them to challenge Atlanta down the stretch and finally make it a game.
To Simmons, that was a good sign. "At one point, we were down 26, and we still were in the game," he said. "That tells you a lot about this team and what we’re capable of doing. We never want to do that again, obviously, but we got to start the right way.”
Losing to a fifth-seeded team at home as the No. 1 squad in the conference to open a series could definitely take a hit on Philly's confidence. While Simmons credits the Hawks for setting a tone for themselves, the veteran guard doesn't seem to believe his team feels too down on themselves after one game.
“I think the confidence has always been there,” Simmons explained. “I think we just got to lock in and be ready for whoever comes in the building because it’s not going to be easy. It’s the playoffs, and this is a good team we’re facing right now. They play the right way, they share the ball, and they play together. We got to come together and play the right way.”
Sunday's matchup against the Hawks marked the second time the Sixers lost in six games this postseason. While the defeat definitely didn't set the ideal tone for Philly, Simmons seems confident his teammates will have their minds right for the Game 2 matchup, which is set to take place on Tuesday night.
Justin Grasso covers the Philadelphia 76ers for Sports Illustrated. You can follow him for live updates on Twitter: @JGrasso_ & Instagram: @JGrassoNBA.