After securing a victory and officially punching their ticket to the playoffs on Wednesday, the Sixers are back in action to face the Atlanta Hawks again tonight. The first game was a dominant 127-83 victory for the Sixers in which the Hawks were held to a season-low in points scored. This will be the Hawks’ fourth game in six days and this stretch has clearly taken a toll on the team.
Can Hawks Shake Injury Bug?
Sitting at fifth place in the East, the Hawks have had a fairly successful season. They have a record of 34-29 and average 112.8 points per game. Despite their success, the Hawks are coming off back-to-back losses and looking to find their momentum again as the playoffs approach.
The Sixers looked terrific in the first matchup against the hobbled Hawks’ lineup. Trae Young was the most notable player out as he has been sidelined the past four games with an ankle injury. The third-year player is the focal point of the Hawks offense and is averaging 25.3 points and 9.6 assists per game this season. He has been updated to questionable on the injury report prior to tonight, making his status one to watch as the game approaches.
The Hawks will continue to be without Kevin Huerter tonight as he recovers from a shoulder sprain. Tony Snell is also unlikely to play as he is listed as doubtful with an ankle injury. Bogdan Bogdanovic (hamstring) and Clint Capela (heel) are also listed as questionable on the early injury report. It would be a major blow to the Hawks if Capela is unable to suit up as he was the primary defender on Joel Embiid last game and averages 15.4 points and 14.6 rebounds per game. The outlook of the game will likely change depending on who is able to suit up for Atlanta, but the injury bug has made an impact on the roster of late.
Sixers Look to Ride Momentum
After battling with injuries over the past few weeks, the Sixers have finally gotten their full roster back on the floor. In what has been a pleasant change- there were zero Sixers’ players listed on the early injury report ahead of tonight’s matchup. The Sixers have a 21-4 on the season with their regular starting lineup and that is who will seemingly take the floor tonight.
It has been nice to see Ben Simmons back in the lineup after missing four straight games due to illness. Simmons looked to be in attack mode in the previous matchup and finished with 12 points, 6 assists, 4 rebounds, and a pair of steals despite only playing 16 minutes.
Ben’s creation in the fast-break was extremely impressive in the previous matchup and could be a place that could look to be exploited again. The Hawks rank 22nd in the league in defensive rating and will now be facing a Sixers team that has found its stride again. If Clint Capela is forced to miss tonight’s matchup expect the ball to be pushed to Joel Embiid early and often.
This is a game where a healthy Sixers team will face a depleted Hawks roster. After surviving a tough stretch of games, the Sixers have found their form again having won their last two games by an average margin of 37.5 points.
The race for the top seed in the East continues to heat up which makes every game important for the Sixers. The Nets continue to hold a game and a half lead for the top spot, but tonight could be an important chance for the Sixers to make up ground. The Nets face Dame Lillard and the Portland Trail Blazers tonight and will be without both James Harden and Kevin Durant. There are only nine remaining games for Brooklyn so tonight would go a long way in increasing the Sixers’ chances at securing the first seed.
If they are able to secure the first seed, the Sixers would likely face the winner of the 4th/5th seeds in the second round of the playoffs. As the standings currently sit, this would be a matchup between the Hawks and Knicks so tonight also serves as a potential playoff preview. Regardless, it is important for the Sixers to continue on their hot streak and build momentum as the number of games continues to wind down.
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