Hawks 130, Sixers 122: Sixers with another uninspiring effort in Atlanta vs. Hawks


Games are difficult when you miss Joel Embiid. They are even more difficult when the majority of the team decides not to show up.

The Sixers had another terrible effort in Atlanta, falling to the Hawks, 130-122, at the State Farm Arena on Wednesday night.

The Sixers lost the season series, 3-1, to an Atlanta team that just won their 30th game. Even with Jimmy Butler (back) returning to the lineup, it was an uninspiring effort.

They are still looking for their 50th victory, falling to 49-29 in the season, and have yet to secure the third seed of the East with four games to play. They are now 7-9 without Embiid this season.

Here are the observations of the loss.

• The defensive intensity in the first quarter was at the level of an All-Star game in the NBA. It seemed that either team had what they wanted, with the Hawks firing 65 percent from the field and with a 42-38 lead.

The Sixers only seemed disinterested from the start. Atlanta was not even making difficult baskets. They were just running simple pick-and-rolls and coming out at the break. The Sixers did not fight through screens and their transition defense did not exist.

With 9:08 in the second quarter and with the Hawks already adding 50 points, Ben Simmons stopped the tide a bit. The possession looked like it was going to end up with another easy bucket of a pick-and-roll. Instead, when Jonah Bolden and JJ Redick converged on the ball handler, Simmons helped his man and blocked the great man Isaac Humphries on the edge.

But that impulse did not last long.

• Trae Young just killed the Sixers in the pick-and-roll all night long. If it was Redick or T.J. McConnell defending the novice guard, he ate them alive. During a stretch in the third quarter, Young's duo and John Collins looked unstoppable. All other possessions ended in a young float or a ball that Collins had eliminated. It was surprising that Brett Brown did not change things and throw Butler to Young, while Young was destroying the Sixers defense.

Young is giving voters something to think about in the Rookie of the Year career. He finished with 33 points (12 of 18 shots) with 12 badists and only two turnovers. Collins was not far behind, adding 25 points.

It was also a strong night for the product of Saint Joseph DeAndre & Bembry, who recorded 17 points (6 of 9 shots), six rebounds and four badists.

• Another thing worth noting: the Sixers were terrible from the free throw line. It was not the reason why they lost, but leaving 22 out of 38 of the charity band certainly did not help their cause.

• Redick had another strong game. He set the season record for the Sixers with his number 227 in the first quarter, surpbading the Kyle Korver franchise brand. It's still amazing how much Redick can run without the ball and the shots while he's still on the move. It cooled down as the game progressed, but ended with a team record of 30 points, with 10 of 22 pitches from the field and 6 of 13 from three.

• Simmons really fought from the floor in the first half. It was looking good hoop, but ended up leaving 1 of 8 from the field. He lost a couple of bunnies and was rejected in a dunk attempt by former Sixer Justin Anderson. Simmons was also poor on the line, with only 3 of 8. He did not improve much in the second half for Simmons, who only managed 6 of 17 in total, but finished with 15 rebounds and eight badists.

• The position of the backup center is still a bit of an enigma. Bolden started again and his defense was of poor quality as well as against the Mavericks. But for the merit of the novice, he overcame the dream and sometimes shone. He was able to stay out of trouble in this as well.

Boban Marjanovic gave them an offensive spark, but was killed by the Hawks in the pick-and-roll. This type of confrontation is a nightmare for the Hulking center. It's the growing concern to use it in the postseason.

• James Ennis had to leave the game early in the third quarter with a bruise in the right quadrant, the injury that caused him to miss two games last week.

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