The Philadelphia 76ers are returning home after a 131-126 win over the Wizards in Washington DC on Wednesday night. The Sixers will be taking on the Atlanta Hawks, who’ve had a bad run of games, going 3-7 over their last ten.
While injuries and illness have hampered the Sixers over the past couple of weeks, they’re all healthy and should have a full lineup for tonight, while the Hawks are without surprising power forward Jalen Johnson with a broken wrist and, as of this morning, have All-Star guard Trae Young listed as questionable with an illness.
Sixers vs. Hawks Game Information
Who: Atlanta Hawks (9-11) at Philadelphia 76ers (13-7)
When: 7:00 pm EST
Where: Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia, PA.
Watch: NBC Sports Philadelphia, Bally’s Sports Southeast
Sixers vs Wizards betting info
Spread: Sixers -8 | Hawks +8
Moneyline: Sixers -325 | Hawks +260
Total: O/U 241
What to look for from the Sixers
Wednesday night should have been a cakewalk for the Sixers, taking on a Wizards team that is one of the worst in the league. Instead, the Sixers trailed for most of the first half and didn’t regain control of the game until the end of the third quarter.
They allowed the Wizards to hang around far too long for the team’s liking. While it wasn’t expected, the team was returning Joel Embiid, Tyrese Maxey, and Kelly Oubre Jr. from the injury report, with each having missed games prior to the Wizards matchup, so a little time to get back into rhythm was needed.
The NBA’s leading scorer at 33.1 points per game, Joel Embiid, dropped 50 points on the Wizards in his return to action. While it took a bit for the team to get into a rhythm, Embiid was doing what he had to be, carrying the squad to a victory. This year, after winning MVP last season, is shaping up to be Embiid’s best of his career, and someone like Clint Capela is not going to slow The Process down. Embiid should have another dominant performance this evening.
Tyrese Maxey is playing the best basketball of his short career, and his 26.9 points per game average is good enough for 12th in the league. While Maxey and Embiid have become the most lethal scoring duo in the league, the rest of the Sixers need to start stepping up.
De’Anthony Melton has had a nice run over the last several games and has his scoring up to 13.2 points per game, but his defense and playmaking have been lacking. While not expected to be a star in Philly, Melton needs to show more, especially on the defensive side of the ball.
When you have players like Robert Covington, Jaden Springer, and Pat Beverly on the bench, if you’re not playing quality defense, it’s going to be easy for the Sixers to move someone into that spot. RoCo is a proven defender, but his scoring isn’t there; Beverly showed during the Celtics game that he can still drop 20 if it’s needed, and for some reason, the Sixers do not give Springer any sort of consistent minutes, even though he’s probably their best wing defender. The Melton experiment should be ended quickly before it’s too late for someone like Springer to gain valuable experience during the regular season.
Speaking of experiments that seem to go on forever, Tobias Harris has seemingly fallen apart lately. Over the last seven games, Harris is shooting just 5-21 (23.8%) on his three-point attempts and averaging 13.4 points per game. After a relatively hot start to the season that saw Harris averaging 19.7 points per game, his shooting woes have his season average down to 17.4 points. It’s not what the Sixers expect, nor can they afford to have them out there on a nightly basis, but at $37 million in salary this season, they really can’t sit him.
With a full and healthy roster, the Sixers should have no problem taking care of the Hawks, who are one of the worst defense teams in the league. If Melton and Harris show that they’re unable to defend players like Trae Young, Dejounte Murray, and De’Andre Hunter, head coach Nick Nurse has Kelly Oubre, Beverly, Covington, and most importantly Springer, on the bench waiting to get in and slow the Hawks down.
What to look for from the Hawks
Trae Young is again leading the way for the Hawks and while his shooting percentages are lower, his volume is what’s keeping him going. On the season, Young is averaging 27.2 points and 10.6 assists per game, which is good enough for 11th in scoring and 2nd to only Tyrese Haliburton in assists in the league. Young will be looking to get up shots, but how many will be contested with a much improved Sixers defense will be the key.
Along with Young, Dejounte Murray is having another good season, his second with the Hawks. He’s averaging 20 points, 4.4 rebounds, and 5.3 assists, which makes for a pretty lethal attack from the Hawks backcourt. Murray is going to need all of the tricks in his bag if the Hawks are going to compete with the Sixers tonight.
With players like Bogdan Bogdanovic, De’Andre Hunter, Saddiq Bey, Clint Capela, AJ Griffin, and Onyeka Okongwu, the Hawks have some talent and depth, they’re just not seeing the results that they expected when assembling the team. Currently they’re 10th in the Eastern Conference, they’ve been losing constantly over the past few weeks and there doesn’t seem to be any change in sight. They’re going to need several miracles if they’re going to win in Philly.
What you should watch for
The Wizards game would have been the perfect “showtime” game for the Sixers had they all been healthy and back together prior to the game. That wasn’t the case. They looked sloppy and had to pull it out in the end. Tonight should be much different. The rust of not playing together has been knocked off, they have a full and healthy roster, and there should be no reason that the Sixers shouldn’t blow out a Hawks team that is allowing 122.3 points per game on the season.
Kelly Oubre is back, seemed healthy, and played well in 19 minutes against the Wizards, so head coach Nick Nurse should be willing to get some more minutes for him tonight. While Oubre should expect more minutes, what Nurse must do is limit the minutes of Harris and Melton if they’re not providing quality defense against a lethal Hawks scoring squad. If Melton isn’t able to work with Maxey and contain Young and Murray, then Nurse needs to find time for Beverly or Covington but, more importantly, Springer.
While the Sixers should have an easy game, they can’t rest on the Hawks, who are putting up the 2nd most points in the league, on offense. It just so happens that the Sixers are right behind them and are averaging 120.7 points per game. Combine the Sixers scoring with the poor Hawks defense, and what you should get is a fun show with Maxey and Embiid both over 30 points and Oubre to get himself over the 20-point hump in his second game back.
Sixers 133 – Hawks 117