The Atlanta Hawks returned to action on Wednesday in Philadelphia after negotiating a back-to-back on Sunday and Monday. However, it was not an ideal night for the Hawks as the Sixers battered the Hawks 127-83 for their largest margin of defeat this season.
The Hawks went into Wednesday’s game severely undermanned, missing Trae Young, Bogdan Bogdanovic and Kevin Huerter, in addition it De’Andre Hunter, Cam Reddish and Tony Snell. For the Hawks to be missing six of their best seven perimeter defenders is about a rough of a loss of personnel on the road against a Sixers side that obviously have championship aspirations.
John Collins led the Hawks’ scoring effort with 21 points on 8-of-11 shooting while Solomon Hill added 14 points. For the Sixers, Seth Curry scored 20 points, Tobias Harris and Joel Embiid added 17 points.
Really, this game was over and done by the end of the first quarter as the Sixers outscored the Hawks 37-17. The Hawks never led, they cut the Sixers lead briefly under 20 points but from there it was a domination from the home-side, leading by as many as 46 points.
The key to the Sixers’ first quarter success was the fast break scoring, scoring 20 of their 30 (a season-high from any team against the Hawks) — they crushed the Hawks in transition.
Off of the Hawks miss, Ben Simmons goes coast-to-coast and gets all the way to the rim and scores the layup:
Next, Brandon Goodwin is blocked at the rim by Joel Embiid and the Sixers turn defense into offense as Curry escapes the defense and finds Simmons for the layup:
Embiid again shows his disruptive defense as he pokes the ball away from Clint Capela and the Sixers head in transition, where Ben Simmons slips in behind Capela, receives the ball and makes another layup:
A Hawks turnover fuels the Sixers’ transition offense as Simmons then proceeds to find Tobias Harris at the rim with the dunk, with Brandon Goodwin conflicted between sticking with Harris and covering Curry on the three-point line:
After a Hawks miss, Simmons attacks in transition with more gusto as Lou Williams strays away from Danny Green, who receives the ball from Simmons and hits the three-pointer:
Next, Goodwin attacks downhill but his pass to the short-corner is intercepted by Simmons, who takes off in transition and, again, Curry isn’t picked up and hits the three-pointer:
Off of a Danilo Gallinari make, Simmons takes off, where the Hawks are clearly concerned as Kris Dunn steps in front, moving away from Curry in the corner, where Simmons finds him again for the three-pointer:
Finally, the Sixers again find a quick basket as Shake Milton finds George Hill, who attacks the Hawks’ lack of rim protection and dunks at the rim:
20 fast break points in one quarter, the most any team has allowed in one quarter in the entire league this season. Ben Simmons was at the heart of most of what the Sixers did in transition with his unique ability to put pressure in transition and his passing ability.
The Hawks, in contrast, struggled to score with their lack of firepower and their misses fueled the Sixers’ offense. The Sixers’ defense made things very difficult for the Hawks inside, blocking 10 shots — the most a team has produced against the Hawks this season.
In the end, most of the fourth quarter ended up being garbage time (and it should’ve been a lot more than nine minutes in the fourth quarter) as the Hawks scored back-to-back season-low in points with 83 on 33% shooting from the field for their largest losing margin of the season with 44 points separating the Hawks and Sixers in the end.
Speaking postgame, Hawks interim head coach Nate McMillan wasn’t pleased with his side’s effort in the first quarter.
“The first two quarters we really didn’t come out with any intensity, no sense of urgency playing in that first 24 minutes,” said McMillan postgame. “I thought the third quarter was better. Intensity, a little bit more urgency, a little bit more fight. We’ll look at this as we do with all of our games. We’ll learn from it, we have to get better from it.”
The Hawks were missing a lot of their best perimeter players as well as their best shooters, with those who are available, with Lou Williams shooting 2-of-7 from the field, Danilo Gallinari 1-of-9.
“We’re literally missing, most or all of our shooters,” said Collins. “Kevin, Bogi, Trae, Tony. It’s tough, it’s tough out there when you have guys that are big parts of your team that aren’t there. It’s tough. Playing against a great team like Philly with their starting lineup, I feel ready to go. While we’re going through change it’s tough, uphill battle. At the end of the day I feel like we definitely could’ve competed harder out there.”
There’s honestly very little to say about this game. It was a wire-to-wire loss and the Sixers led by as many as 46 points. The Hawks getting through this game without injury can be considered a win on the night and this would’ve been a great opportunity to keep minutes for some of the Hawks’ other starters on the lower side. However, Collins ended up playing 29 minutes and Clint Capela played 24 minutes and even that was too many.
Kris Dunn played just under 15 minutes as he continues to ramp up his activity and getting reacquainted with the NBA again. Offensively, he’s still struggling (1-of-6 last night) but that should be expected being absent as long as he has been.
This game was simply a formality in the end and there’s not a ton to take away, not a lot to react to and not a lot to overreact to. It’s one game against the Sixers where the Hawks were severely undermanned. That’s it.
Looking at the bigger picture, while the Knicks and the Celtics both won last night, the Hawks still hold a game over the Celtics (as well as the tiebreaker) and the Knicks have some tough games coming up (including a seven-game Western Conference road trip) while the Hawks have a home-happy schedule once they’re done in Philadelphia. Things are still looking well for the Hawks.
The Hawks (34-29) are back in action on Friday when they take on the Sixers (41-21) once again at Wells Fargo Center, where Nate McMillan is a little more optimistic the Hawks might have more players available to them, as well as providing a better showing.
“Hopefully we’ll have some bodies and we’ll play with more intensity, better execution,” said McMillan. “Hopefully that result is different.”
We shall see what happens.
Until next time...