The first game back in Philips Arena was not kind to the Atlanta Hawks, who were thoroughly drubbed by the Philadelphia 76ers by a final score of 101-91. The Hawks were completely overmatched by their playoff-bound opposition in all areas of the game, but it was the offense that fell off a cliff for Atlanta after a respectable first quarter that put them out of the game by the end of the third. The Hawks posted an absolutely abysmal 60.4 offensive rating in the second and third quarters combined as the 76ers turned up the defense, even without Defensive Player of the Year candidate Joel Embiid, who missed the game through injury. Atlanta put together a run in fourth-quarter garbage time but the result was never really in doubt after the 76ers blew open a huge third-quarter lead.
The team’s offensive woes started at the point guard position, where they only had one healthy player in Isaiah Taylor. Dennis Schröder will miss the remainder of the season with an ankle injury, Malcolm Delaney continues to miss time with his own ankle injury, and Josh Magette was transferred back to Erie in advance of the Bayhawks’ playoff game against the Lakeland Magic on Saturday. Taylor’s no stranger to the starting role but couldn’t get anything going in this one, shooting just 5-for-18 from the field. The backup role went to Tyler Dorsey, who also struggled from the field, a consistent theme throughout the team. As a team, the Hawks shot just 36 percent from the field, including a ghastly 9-for-39 from beyond the three-point line. The only bright spot for the Hawks’ offense was Damion Lee, who put up a career-high 20 points on 8-for-17 shooting. Lee especially had it going from inside the arc, which usually isn’t his domain.
Friday’s game also marked the return of Ersan Ilyasova and Marco Belinelli, who were both bought out by the Hawks after the trade deadline and signed with Philadelphia for their playoff run. Both guys did what they do best: get shots up. Ilyasova and Belinelli combined for 32 points on 30 shots. Ilyasova also added 16 rebounds and drew his customary charge in the first half.
The Hawks’ offense disappeared, but Ben Simmons certainly showed up for Philadelphia. After PUBG teammate Karl-Anthony Towns gave the Hawks 56 and 15 on Wednesday, Simmons was just about as dominant in his 27 minutes, putting up a triple-double and making it look easy, throwing no-looks and behind-the-back passes all over the court. Simmons finished a team-best +21, adding in a steal and two blocks for good measure.
The Hawks will be back at it on Sunday against the Orlando Magic in what could be a pivotal game in the race for draft position at the bottom of the standings.