Embiid-less Sixers come up short against Hawks in Atlanta, 139-132

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Atlanta Hawks forward Jalen Johnson (1) battles Philadelphia 76ers’ Nicolas Batum (40) and Paul Reed (44) for a rebound during the first of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2024, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

Wednesday night, the Philadelphia 76ers traveled down to Atlanta to face off against the Hawks for a classic 7:40 pm tip-off. Unfortunately for the Sixers, they would once again be without star center Joel Embiid as the Hawks would also miss their starting center, Clint Capela.

As Philadelphia aimed to work their way back into the win column, Atlanta looked to end their own two-game losing streak.

The two teams traded shots throughout the game as Tobias Harris and Tyrese Maxey led the scoring effort for the Sixers, while the Hawks were led by a balanced attack of Trae Young, Dejounte Murray, and rising star Jalen Johnson. The return of Harris was particularly key for Philadelphia as they needed as much firepower as possible with Embiid absent from the game.

Tobias Harris provides some much-needed reinforcements for the Sixers

Philadelphia 76ers forward Tobias Harris (12) goes in for a shot as Atlanta Hawks forward Jalen Johnson (1) defends during the first of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2024, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

After exiting early against the Knicks last Friday, Harris missed Saturday’s matchup against the Jazz, in which the Sixers struggled to find any sort of offensive consistency. Against the Hawks, the offensive boost that Harris provides was clear and present.

It was one of the more impressive performances of Tobias Harris’ Sixers career, finishing the night with 32 points and 10 rebounds. While Harris’ season has been a bit inconsistent at times, for a team as shorthanded as the Sixers have been at times this season, it was a breath of fresh air to see him return.

Few were likely more excited about his return than his teammate Tyrese Maxey, who has been carrying the offensive load every night Embiid has missed. Without Harris back in the fold, Maxey not only had another offensively capable player to take some attention off himself, but he had a fantastic partner in the two-man game to revitalize the Sixers’ offense.

That two-man game was even the key to the Sixers’ entire fourth-quarter offense and likely would have been in overtime had Maxey not picked up a controversial sixth foul on a Trae Young grift in overtime.

Harris did what he could in the extra quarter, but without Maxey to run the offense, the Sixers sputtered, allowing Atlanta to go on a 10-0 run to end the game. Ultimately, that fourth quarter and overtime push by the Hawks proved just enough to overtake the Sixers by a final score of 139-132.