Atlanta at Philadelphia
Time: 6 PM CST (NBA TV)
Spread: PHI -9.5
Odds c/o 5dimes
The Atlanta Hawks have won two straight and have fared 5-5 over its last 10 SU. Atlanta is still just 17-41 on the season and 9.5-point underdogs as it travels to face the Philadelphia 76ers at 6 PM CST Monday on NBA TV. The betting total is set at 229 points according to NBA oddsmakers at 5dimes.
PHILADELPHIA NEWS & NOTES:
The Philadelphia 76ers are seeded No. 5 in the East currently, with an eight-game lead over No. 7 Brooklyn who it faces today. The Sixers trail No. 4 Miami by just 1.5 games.
Philadelphia averages 108.6 points per game, ranking No. 22 in the Association in scoring. It allows 106.2 per, and the Sixers have a win-differential of +2.4 points. Joel Embiid is the team leader. He averages 23.4 points, 12.3 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 2.2 steals/blocks in just 31.1 minutes per game. The signing of Al Horford has helped the Sixers manage the load of Embiid much better. Embiid has also appeared in only 31 games to this point and is currently now cleared for non-contact conditioning drills. He is expected to be evaluated again in another week.
Horford is averaging the same 30 minutes per game, and he averages 12.3 points, 6.5 rebounds and 1.9 steals/blocks per game. The Sixers have Tobias Harris and Josh Richardson starting on the wings, and both are producing, combining to average 34.4 points and 9.8 rebounds per game.
Ben Simmons is certainly a unique point guard, but he has not been without his issues. The 6’9” point-forward is averaging 14.9 points, seven rebounds, and 8.6 assists per game, but the mantra that he “cannot shoot” is not dying any sort of quick death. While Simmons shoots a very fine 56.3 percent from the floor, he is still passing on most jump shots, and he very rarely (0.1 per game) shoots the triple.
It does affect matters. Teams do not respect Simmons’ shooting ability and that makes it easier to double team Embiid and Harris. Until Simmons gains a respectable mid-range jumper and potentially even a three, it is tough to imagine the Sixers making that final step towards true contention. Philadelphia is a good team, but in some senses, it is an easy team to prepare for. While Embiid is extra-worldly, Simmons’ upside is quite mitigated by his errant shooting. It is not much different than the trajectory seen in the career of Rajon Rondo. Either add a respectable jump shot or keep launching uncontested bricks. It is up to Simmons which it is.
The Atlanta Hawks are just 17041 in a season that was expected to be one of great improvement. Much of this could be attributed to the loss of John Collins to a 25-game suspension, but to be 14 games below .500 before the half-way mark of the season is a challenge the Hawks really did not plan for necessarily. Trae Young has been absolutely atomically hot most of this season, but the Hawks are just 3-9 at home where it hosts Los Angeles today.
The worst aspect for the Hawks, perhaps expectedly, has been its defense. Atlanta is allowing 118.4 points per game, which is the third-worst in the NBA. It scores 108.5 itself, but that, too, is in the bottom-third of NBA teams. It adds up to a -9.9 point differential and a lot of pretty lopsided losses for the young Hawks.
Young, though, has been sensational. The second-year point guard from Oklahoma is averaging 30.0 points, 4.4 rebounds, 9.2 assists, and 1.2 steals per game while posting a PER over 20 (24.51, actually), while no one else outside of the suspended Collins is over that mark. Jabari Parker has attempted to pick up the slack left behind by Collins, but Parker is also not much of an individual defender. Rookie DeAndre Hunter has seen a bigger role than anticipated due to Collins’ absence, as well Hunter has been solid. He is averaging 12.8 points, four rebounds and two assists per game in 31.6 minutes per game (which is third-most to only Young’s 35.4 and Collins’ 32.3).
The Hawks have also been without key rotational player Kevin Huerter, who shined last season as a rookie. Atlanta really just needs its full continent to have time to grow this season and build chemistry, before again landing in the lottery and selecting the next young talent to add to its core. The Hawks have a great and promising duo with Collins and Young, but they have only played five games together thus far. Accordingly, there are a lot of questions for the Hawks to still sort out over the remainder of this season.