According to Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer, Ben Simmons is probable (minor upper respiratory illness) and Al Horford is out (left knee soreness) for the Sixers’ Thursday evening game against the Atlanta Hawks.
Pompey notes that Horford is “likely” to play Saturday against the Boston Celtics (which will be the final time the the Sixers and the Celtics meet this season), which should ease concerns that Horford is dealing with anything serious. As I (and others) speculated yesterday, this seems like a good opportunity for the Sixers to get a starter some
load management rest against an opponent that the Sixers can afford to be short-handed against.
It could get a little dicey if Horford is out and Ben ends up not being able to go. With Josh Richardson already on the pine thanks to a hamstring injury, the Sixers would be limited to just two of their typical starters (Tobias Harris and Joel Embiid). Even though the Sixers still should be deep enough to handle business in such a scenario, it would be a lot more comforting is Simmons is active. The Sixers need to get wins in against a cellar dweller like the Hawks, with Philly approaching a tough slate including the Miami Heat, Boston Celtics, Milwaukee Bucks, and Los Angeles Clippers before the All-Star break.
No word on Mike Scott as of yet, who in addition to Al Horford was reported on Wednesday afternoon to be questionable for the game against the Hawks. Check back with us before game time for an update.
Two nights after defeating the worst team in the Western Conference, the Philadelphia 76ers will try and complete the futility double and emerge victorious against the worst team in the Eastern Conference, the 12-36 Atlanta Hawks. Of course, the major difference is that the Sixers will be on the road for tonight’s contest, a situation that has not been kind to them this season, to say the least. However, maybe the two wins in New York a couple weeks ago were a sign of better things to come.
An even bigger factor to the Sixers’ chances is the putrid defense Atlanta has been playing lately. Across their last three games, the Hawks have allowed 140 points to the Thunder, 133 to the Wizards (they scored 152 and won, but still), and 130 points to the Raptors. For context, the Sixers haven’t allowed 130 points in a game this entire season. Although the Hawks play at the 5th-highest pace in the league, it’s not simply a case of more possessions; their defensive rating of 113.4 sits third-worst in the NBA. Atlanta has the worst opposition free throw attempt rate and opposing offensive rebounding percentage of any team. All of which is to say that Joel Embiid ought to wreck havoc on the interior.