Health will be a big question for both teams when the Atlanta Hawks host the Philadelphia 76ers on Monday.
The Hawks have dropped four in a row, including a 113-105 decision at Charlotte on Saturday, and have lost five of their last six after starting the season with three straight wins.
Philadelphia, tied with Boston for the best record in the Eastern Conference, has lost two straight since a five-game winning streak. The Sixers lost 115-103 at home to Denver on Saturday.
Philadelphia played without four starters on Saturday. Ben Simmons (sore left knee) and Joel Embiid (back) were out with injuries, while Seth Curry and Tobias Harris were among five players out because of COVID-19 concerns. The Sixers had only eight active players — the league minimum — leaving coach Doc Rivers a thin lineup to juggle. Only six logged minutes.
“We’ve got to be very careful in how we navigate the next week,” Rivers said. “COVID created this, but the concern is not COVID now. The concern is injuries.”
The only regular in the starting lineup for Philadelphia was Danny Green. He was joined by backups Dakota Mathias, Dwight Howard, Isaiah Joe and Tyrese Maxey to open the game. It was the first career start for Mathias and Joe.
Maxey, the team’s first-round draft pick (21st overall) out of Kentucky, played 44 minutes and scored 39 points — exceeding his previous best by 23 points.
The Sixers will likely continue to have a depleted roster when they face Atlanta, as they start a stretch of five games in seven days. Curry will miss at least five more games. Harris, Shake Milton, Matisse Thybulle and Vincent Poirier may miss a week because of the COVID protocols. Mike Scott has missed five straight games with a left knee contusion.
Embiid began to complain about his back on Friday. Rivers said it would not have been wise for Embiid to suit up, given the minutes he would have been expected to play. Embiid, however, is available to play against the Hawks, the team said Monday.
Simmons didn’t travel to Atlanta and will miss the game to receive treatment on his knee, The Athletic reported.
Atlanta’s Trae Young played 38 minutes through a wrist injury on Saturday and had wrapped it with an ice bag after the game. Young fell on the wrist while trying to take a charge. Young took part in a noncontact practice Sunday.
But Atlanta will be without Bogdan Bogdanovic, who left Saturday’s game in the second quarter with a an injury and did not return. Bogdanovic had a MRI on Sunday and was diagnosed with an avulsion fracture in his right knee. He’s out indefinitely while a treatment plan is formulated.
Young leads the team with 24.7 points and 8.6 assists. John Collins averages 17.2 points and 7.8 rebounds, while De’Andre Hunter is averaging 16.4 points and 6.8 rebounds.
This will be the only meeting between the Hawks and Sixers in the first half of the season. Philadelphia took two of three games against Atlanta last season.
Atlanta’s Young averaged 30.7 points and 12.3 assists and Philadelphia’s Embiid averaged 35.3 points and 13.7 rebounds in the three games.
–Field Level Media