After the Sixers beat the Hawks in Game 2, Ben Simmons became an unusual topic of conversation. Despite the Sixers winning the game dominantly, many people zeroed in on the fact that Simmons only attempted three total shots.
Fast forward to Game 3 on Friday night, and the talk continued. Simmons attempted five shots in the first half and still looked passive at times. Things drastically changed after the halftime intermission.
Simmons came out in the second half and instantly went into attack mode. He repeatedly got downhill and put pressure on Atlanta's defense at the rim. 14 of Simmons' 18 points came in the second half, and he did so on stellar 5-6 shooting.
Whatever his coaches and teammates said to him during halftime worked tremendously. Simmons' assertiveness was a night and day difference between halves.
During his postgame media availability, Joel Embiid spoke on what he said to Simmons at halftime, encouraging him to up his aggressiveness on the offensive end of the floor.
"I saw the way they were guarding me. Capela didn't want to leave me alone, even if I was at half court. It felt like they just didn't want me to touch the ball. I told [Simmons] you need to be aggressive, and you need to attack because there's a lot of space. I told him to be aggressive and just go out there and dominate," said Embiid.
The second half of Game 3 drew many comparisons to Game 2 in the series against the Wizards. Embiid saw the way Washington didn't leave his side, so he floated on the perimeter to open up the lane for Simmons to attack.
Friday was another example of Embiid's high basketball IQ. He can read what the defense is giving him and adjust accordingly. The rest of the Sixers continue to benefit from the gravity that Embiid draws when he's on the floor.
The Sixers' big three have no problem stepping up and back to let others go to work. Because of this, all three of them were able to leave their mark in Game 3. When they are firing on all cylinders like this, the Sixers are extremely tough to compete with.
Kevin McCormick covers the Philadelphia 76ers for South Jersey's 97.3 ESPN and Sports Illustrated. You can follow him on Twitter: @KevinMcCNBA.