The Sixers kick off their second-round series against the Atlanta Hawks on Sunday afternoon. They will likely be doing so without the services of Joel Embiid, who remains questionable heading into game one.
As the Sixers get ready to start their next step in their journey for an NBA championship, here are three keys to victory.
Containing/Attack Trae Young
It is no secret that Trae Young is the focal point of the Hawks offensive. The All-Star guard is more than capable of erupting for a huge offensive outburst on any given night. Containing him is the primary objective of the Sixers' defense.
Not only do the Sixers need to make his life hard on offense, but they also need to exploit him on the other end. Young is an undersized guard who Doc Rivers should look to attack on offense.
The Sixers did a good job attacking mismatches in round one and will have another glaring one in round two. If they continually make him work on the defensive end, it should slow down his offensive output.
The pick-and-roll is a big part of the Hawks' offense. Young's ability to hit a shot from anywhere on the floor makes him a threat when given space.
Young had his way early against the Sixers in the pick-and-roll the last time these teams met, but the team was able to quickly adjust. If Rivers continues to embrace small-ball, they become more switchable and might even be more equipped to defend Young in these situations.
Clint Capela is the other threat to watch for the Hawks. What makes their pick-and-roll so hard to defend is that when the defense collapses on Young, he simply lobs it to Capela for an easy dunk.
The Sixers have improved greatly defending the pick-and-roll compared to last season. Dan Burke is sure to throw multiple different looks at the Young/Capela combo to keep them guessing.
Neutralizing Clint Capela/Controlling the glass
Rivers was successful in embracing small-ball against the Wizards partly because Washington themselves ran a smaller lineup. That is not the case with the Hawks. Clint Capela is a physical center who is extremely active on the glass.
In round one against the Knicks, he averaged 13.4 rebounds per game, with three of those being offensive. Keeping him off the glass should be a major point of emphasis for the Sixers.
Without Joel Embiid, this is an uphill battle for the Sixers. Ben Simmons and Tobias Harris did a great job rebounding the ball in round one and will need to continue it in round two. They cannot allow Capela to give the Hawks extra possessions with his rebounding.
Continuing the small-ball lineup might make this difficult, but the Sixers still have the size to neutralize the Hawks from dominating the glass.
Kevin McCormick covers the Philadelphia 76ers for South Jersey's 97.3 ESPN and Sports Illustrated. You can follow him on Twitter: @KevinMcCNBA.