Update, 1 p.m.: Trae Young is out Friday vs. the Sixers
Trae Young did not travel with the team for tonight’s game. So the team ruled him out (illness) for the game against 76ers in Philly https://t.co/izTKg8Egzw— Lauren L. Williams (@WilliamsLaurenL) December 8, 2023
The Hawks are having a rough go of things in this young season, dropping seven of their last 10 contests. This is the second of a string of games for the Sixers with opponents with under .500 records. However, despite being just 9-11 on the season, don’t count out the Hawks, especially after seeing how the Sixers made it a close competition with the then 3-16 Washington Wizards on Wednesday night.
Atlanta is led by the duo of Trae Young, averaging 27.2 points and 10.6 assists per game, and Dejounte Murray, averaging 20 points per game. However, Young is on the injury report as questionable with an illness. Their biggest advantage is their offensive depth, with seven players on the roster averaging double-digit points on the season. This is a scary prospect for the Sixers, whose bench unit sometimes absolutely stalls offensively.
The Hawks’ defense, however, is an opportunity for the Sixers just as it was in their first matchup this season. In the last meeting back on Nov. 17 in the In-Season Tournament group play, the Sixers defeated the Hawks 126-116. This was partially due to Joel Embiid being able to command most of the Atlanta defense’s attention, opening up the floor for others like Tobias Harris, Tyrese Maxey and even Danuel House Jr. to step up in support. (Harris put up 29 points in that contest, but his play has gone downhill ever since. It would be a great night for Harris to get back into the groove and find that rhythm he had back in the beginning of this season.)
The Sixers are also crucially back to full strength as of Wednesday, with players like Embiid, Maxey and De’Anthony Melton returning from illness. Embiid certainly looked like he felt better, dropping a season-high 50 points on the Wizards in the Sixers’ 131-126 victory Wednesday.
Kelly Oubre Jr. is also back in action after missing a few weeks with a fractured rib. Oubre’s made an immediate impact on his return on Wednesday, dropping 10 points in a crucial fourth period. It was evident how much the Sixers had missed his athleticism and energy. He was playing shorter stints off the bench Wednesday — though he played 10 minutes in the fourth — but one can expect Nick Nurse will increase his involvement as he continues to shake off the rust from his injury.
As far as the Hawks go, their injuries are to their youth. Third-year standout Jalen Johnson is expected to miss a few weeks with a left wrist injury while 2023 first-round draft pick Kobe Bufkin (left thumb fracture) and 2023 second-round pick Mouhamed Gueye (right low back stress fracture) will both miss this matchup as they are both slated to miss weeks of action.
The Sixers and Hawks will tip off at 7 p.m. on Friday.
Who: Atlanta Hawks at Philadelphia 76ers
When: 7:00 pm EST
Where: Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia, PA
Watch: NBC Sports Philadelphia
Radio: 97.5 The Fanatic