What’s up with the Atlanta Hawks?
The Atlanta Hawks are in a bit of a funk right now, losing two straight games to the Houston Rockets and the Miami Heat. The Hawks have only won two of their last six games, despite Trae Young and Dejounte Murray pouring in the numbers on the offensive end. In the loss to the Rockets, Young and Murray combined for 83 points. It wasn’t enough.
The Hawks aren’t getting much from their role players on a consistent basis. Losing Bogdan Bogdanovic to an injury and Kevin Huerter to the Sacramento Kings are taking a toll on the Hawks’ scoring.
The question of whether or not Murray and Young can co-exist has been answered (yes, they most definitely can!), the Hawks’ challenge now is to make everyone else around them useful.
What’s up with the Philadelphia 76ers?
The Sixers are hurting, but only if you look at their roster on paper and the INJ or + marks beside the names of their big-time players. James Harden was the first to go down with a foot injury, then Tyrese Maxey. Then, Joel Embiid also sprained his foot and has missed four games. In those four games, however, the Sixers won three games. How? Stepping up, that’s how.
Guys like Shake Milton and De’Anthony Melton have been playing out of their minds lately for the Sixers, filling in the huge scoring void left by Philly’s Big 3. Milton, who didn’t get burn at the start of the season, is now eating up backcourt minutes with Melton. He’s scored in double figures in the last six games, including a huge 29-point performance in a win versus the Orlando Magic.
The Sixers have every right to be losing games left and right with the unfortunate series of injuries to their team, but somehow they’ve managed to stay afloat, thanks to the inspired play of the replacements.
Storyline to watch out for
The Hawks and the Sixers have had amazing playoff battles recently, and–once the Sixers get all their weapons back–there’s no reason that this brewing offseason rivalry would stop anytime soon.
Both teams have been underwhelmingly cold early on in the season, yet both their win-loss records are still at a decent 11-9, good for fifth place in the Eastern Conference. It’s interesting to see just how much the Sixers can squeeze out of Milton’s scoring juice and stretch this good run without their stars.
The Hawks should have no trouble dismantling the undermanned Sixers, but then again, this season so far has been a series of upsets and unpredictability. Young and Murray will get their buckets against Philly, no doubt. How will their teammates contribute? The answer to that would dictate whether or not Atlanta gets the win.