ATLANTA — The 76ers know they need to play better. Right now, they’re benefiting from their resiliency.
Monday night’s 105-103 victory over the Atlanta Hawks at State Farm Arena was the latest proof of that.
“I thought, offensively, we weren’t really able to get into a rhythm,” forward Tobias Harris said. “And defensively in the first quarter, we were pretty bad.
“But from that point on, we were able to pick it up and create some momentum.”
The Sixers (3-0) depended on their experience to overcome the youthful Hawks (2-1) by getting some easy buckets and get back into the game.
Harris and his teammates know that getting into a rhythm will take time. The starting lineup of Harris, Al Horford, Joel Embiid, Josh Richardson, and Ben Simmons has been on the floor together a total of only four games, including two in the preseason.
And they’ve looked out of sync in the first halves -- including a game without Embiid -- of all three regular-season games. They’ve resembled a group of talented individuals playing for the first time together in a pickup game. But they’ve been able to pull things out partly because they have more talented players.
You might recognize the talent by watching them shoot and handle the ball.
The Sixers rank 27th out of 30 NBA teams in three-point percentage at 29.8 entering Tuesday’s games. They’re also next to last in turnovers at 20.3 per game.
“It’s definitely early jitters from everybody trying to get our chemistry down,” Harris said of the Sixers’ lack of rhythm. “It will continue to progress.”
Embiid, Harris and Horford stepped up down the stretch Monday.
Embiid, who had 36 points and 13 rebounds, took over the game with the Sixers down, 98-92, and 4 minutes, 2 seconds left. He scored six straight points on a pair of foul shots, a cutting dunk, and a turnaround hook to pull his team within 99-98 with 3:09 left.
Horford sank a pair of foul shots with 2 minutes left to give the Sixers a 101-100 lead. Then Harris hit a tough turnaround jumper that gave them a 103-100 edge with 42.1 seconds remaining.
John Collins’ putback of a Trae Young missed foul shot knotted the score at 103 with 7.4 seconds left. Embiid responded by hitting two foul shots with 5.3 seconds to play, giving the Sixers their two-point cushion.
The Sixers also had to overcome Mike Scott’s ejection and Shake Milton’s leaving the game after hyper-extending his left knee.
“We have heart,” Simmons said. “We stick it out. We are going to play until the end.”
The Sixers will tell you it’s easier to come together during tough times with this collection of players. That’s because everyone has the same goal and everyone wants to win, according to Simmons.
“We know we have a special team this year,” he said, “and we can do something special.”
The Sixers will host the Minnesota Timberwolves (3-0) on Wednesday night in a battle of undefeated teams. On Saturday, they’ll begin a western trip that includes games against the Portland Trail Blazers, Phoenix Suns, Utah Jazz, and Denver Nuggets.