The Philadelphia 76ers had about as rough a week on the court as it gets, suffering an embarrassing home loss to the New York Knicks on national television, then losing to the Utah Jazz on the same court one night later. Nick Nurse wasn’t at all happy about the team’s effort and had a ‘training camp’ practice on Monday. The hope is that a few days to refocus and rest will yield a different result when the Sixers retake the court tonight in Atlanta.
One additional negative is that reigning MVP Joel Embiid will remain out due to left knee swelling (with Robert Covington also still sidelined). Now the tracker counts are coming out about whether Joel can reach the 65-game minimum for postseason award eligibility. It wouldn’t really be a Sixers season without some load management debates. However, at least the Sixers should have some reinforcements on the way tonight. Tobias Harris, De’Anthony Melton, and Furkan Korkmaz all practiced each of the last two days, and should be returning to action. Embiid’s absence is obviously huge, but the team should fare alright with the rest of their top nine available.
Heading down to Atlanta, the Sixers have already won the first two meetings between these clubs this season, but, of course, Embiid participated in those contests. Things have not gotten better for the Hawk, though, as they suffered separate five- and four-game losing streaks in the month of December. Atlanta is now towards the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings at 14-21 on the season.
As a result, the Hawks have reportedly made most of the roster available, with Trae Young and Jalen Johnson named as the only untouchables. Our Bryan Toporek recently took a look at guard Dejounte Murray as a possible Sixers trade target, with Bogdan Bogdanovic also a name on a lot of people’s wish list due to his seamless fit and palatable contract. If Tobias wanted to use the opportunity of Embiid being out to ramp up his usage and show the Hawks firsthand he’s an assassin scorer capable of dropping 25 points in any given night, I surely wouldn’t be disappointed.
As of this writing, the Hawks are 2.5-point favorites tonight, per DraftKings. We’ll see if they can prove those algorithms to be a bunch of rubbish and come out victorious this evening.
Who: Philadelphia 76ers vs. Atlanta Hawks
When: 7:30 pm EST
Where: State Farm Arena, Atlanta, GA
Watch: NBC Sports Philadelphia Plus
Radio: 97.5 The Fanatic