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Sixers look to ground wounded Hawks

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These Hawks aren’t flying too high without their sharpest talon...

Philadelphia 76ers v Atlanta Hawks Photo by Scott Cunningham/NBAE via Getty Images

Lost to the Phoenix Suns by three despite some (almost) epic heroics from Joel Embiid.

Lost to the Milwaukee Bucks by seven with Joel Embiid in the lineup.

Lost to the Milwaukee Bucks by… way more than seven with virtually no one in the lineup.

Handed down a 31-point beating to the Oklahoma City Thunder on Monday night.

After losing four straight, the Philadelphia 76ers restored some (shrug) order and calm to the fan base. Let’s not get too ahead of ourselves. That was the 21-41 Thunder. (I’m not disrespecting Lu Dort at all, by the way. I’m just saying he doesn’t scare me too much.)

The best thing about the giant win on Monday night was the rest factor. No member of the Sixers’ starting five played more than 25 minutes. Tobias Harris played EXACTLY 25 minutes, but Embiid (various sorenesses) played 23 minutes and Ben Simmons (non-COVID related flu) played 23.

For the first time in what seems like too long, the injury report for the Sixers is slim. Only Mike Scott is listed, and he is listed as a game time decision. The blowout against Oklahoma City turned out to be beneficial as players got to rest. The big three played a smaller amount of minutes, and Seth Curry and Danny Green also got a little breather.

We should also thank the Thunder for being a bit of a streak breaker. Momentum this late in the season carries into the playoffs, and after last season’s playoff run and the one before that, a healthy, confident Sixers team is pretty important given the expectations of this team with the roster assembled.

The breather against playoff caliber teams is short as the Sixers now face the Atlanta Hawks tonight for the first of two in South Philly. In the standings, the Hawks are a playoff team. Looking at their remaining roster due to injuries, they’re not as strong as they would be totally healthy.

Even though they lost to the Detroit Pistons on Monday, the Hawks have still won seven of their last 10 games and are neck and neck with the New York Knicks for the fourth seed in the East. Since taking over for former Sixers assistant Lloyd Pierce, head coach Nate McMillan has led the Hawks to a 20-8 record.

There may be a “crashing to earth” stretch for Atlanta as the Sixers may have caught a break with All-Star guard Trae Young still recovering from what was diagnosed as a Grade 2 lateral ankle sprain. Young has missed the last three games and is listed as out for tonight’s game. Kevin Huerter — another one of the Hawks’ young sharpshooters — left the Pistons game with an injury and is a game time decision.

Without those two, the offense has been leaning on Bogdan Bogdanović. His 32 points led the way in a win against the Bucks. In that game Bogdanović was 6-of-11 from deep, but he went cold against the Pistons (3-of-10). He’s been the focal point of the offense with Young and Huerter out. His 53 field goal attempts in the last three games are kind of a dead giveaway.

Without Young, the Hawks are going to struggle (especially if Simmons is tasked to guarding Bogdanović). There’s no one else in the Hawks’ starting lineup that could go off for 30+ points to supplement Young’s point production. I guess MAYBE former Sixer Lou Williams could, but he was out for Monday’s game against Detroit as well.

Outside of that, who are the Hawks looking to beat the Sixers with? Clint Capela? John Collins? With the long list of injuries to this Hawks team, the Sixers may have caught a HUGE break this week to rebuild some of the momentum they lost losing four straight to playoff-caliber opponents.

There are only 11 games left in the season, so the Sixers need to capitalize on some opportunities as they get them.

Game Details

Who: Atlanta Hawks vs. Philadelphia 76ers
When: 7:00pm ET, April 28
Where: Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia, PA
Watch: NBC Sports Philadelphia
Listen: 97.5 The Fanatic
Follow: @Liberty_Ballers