Philadelphia 76ers at Atlanta Hawks Preview
The Philadelphia 76ers will travel to Atlanta to face off against the Atlanta Hawks on Monday. Both teams come into the matchup at 2-0 on the young season and there’s a lot to be excited about for each fanbase. The Hawks won their season opener, beating the Detroit Pistons 117-100. They then traveled to the State Farm Arena for their home opener and won a thriller against the Orlando Magic, another young team with postseason aspirations. Trae Young is off to a sizzling start. The second-year guard gave the Pistons all they could handle and more, scoring 26 points with five made 3s in the first half, including some shots from the logo. He then came in clutch down the stretch against the Magic with 10 points in the final five minutes of a 103-99 victory.
The Sixers come into the matchup after an ugly but convincing first victory against the much smaller Boston Celtics, and a hard-fought win against the Pistons without Joel Embiid. The Sixers did what was expected against the Celtics owning the glass 62-41 and holding them to 36 percent shooting from the field and 27 percent from distance. They then took care of business against the Pistons despite being without their all-star center. The Sixers won 107-97 behind 29 points from Tobias Harris.
Time: 7:30 PM ET
Arena: State Farm Arena, Atlanta
Channel: NBCSP, FSSE-ATL
Sixers: Joel Embiid (Q), Mike Scott (Q)
Hawks: Allen Crabbe (O), Chandler Parsons (O), Alex Len (Q), Bruno Fernando (Q)
Philadelphia 76ers Starting Lineup
The Sixers are who we thought they were. They zagged this summer when Elton Brand built the roster. The Sixers have gone contrary to the ever-evolving small-ball epidemic that has been slowly taking over the league in the last 4-5 years. The team’s front office prioritized size, defense and versatility over the offseason when constructing the roster, and the result was on full display during their season opener against their rival, the Celtics. The Sixers were able to switch positions 1-4 seamlessly and Josh Richardson and rookie Matisse Thybulle made Kemba Walker’s night a tough one.
Horford and Richardson were brought in over the summer to give the Sixers more flexibility and provide a defensive punch that could approach historical levels.
In a league that has favored collecting wings and spreading the floor, the Sixers have gone the other way. The shortest player in the starting 5 is Richardson who stands at 6-foot-5. And Richardson isn’t even the point guard. Ben Simmons is the lead guard and he stands at 6-foot-10 with a 7’0” wingspan. The offense can get clunky with the lack of shooting but teams will struggle to score against this team all season long.
The Sixers hope to have Embiid ready for this matchup and expect Richardson to have his hands full trying to slow down Atlanta’s Young, who is averaging 38.5 points per game on a scorching 55 percent from the 3-point line through two games.
Atlanta Hawks Starting Lineup
The Hawks come into this matchup riding high after Saturday’s win over the Magic. Young was the man of the night, scoring 39 points, grabbing seven rebounds and dishing nine assists. He took over late when he knew his team needed him to get a bucket.
“That’s what makes big-time players what they are. They step up big in big moments.” Young said after the game.
The youth movement in Atlanta seems to be working pretty well so far. Early signs point to an increase in confidence from Young after a strong finish to his rookie year. While the other players on the Hawks have struggled in comparison to Young on the offensive end of the court, their defense has kept them in both games they’ve won this season. They held the Pistons to 41 percent shooting from the field and 27 percent from deep then turned in an even better defensive showing against the Magic, holding them to 35 percent from the field and 16 percent from 3-point range.
The Sixers are one of the favorites to make it out of the Eastern Conference, but they are not without their own weaknesses, specifically their outside shooting. The Hawks have a platoon of wings they can roll out to make things difficult for Philly’s players. From the rookie De’Andre Hunter to De’Andre Bembry and even Cam Reddish.
I expect the Sixers to use a gameplan predicated on funneling Young into uncomfortable offensive situations. We’ll see if he’ll be able to take the challenge and come away with a 3-0 record after Monday.
Key Player Matchups
Josh Richardson vs. Trae Young
This matchup is more about the defensive effort Richardson will have to exert in the game. Young is riding high to start the season–he’s averaging 38.5 points per game along with seven rebounds and nine assists–all while posting a true shooting percentage of 72 percent. He has been a problem. Richardson was brought in for the purpose of making life difficult for smaller guards like Young (just like he did the Celtic’s Walker) and this will be a good test for the swingman out of Tennessee.
Tobias Harris vs. De’Andre Hunter
Hunter is off to a solid start. The rookie isn’t wowing anyone with his raw stats–he’s averaging just 10 points per game–but the first-year man is shooting 61 percent from the field and 50 percent from the 3-point line through two games. Due to Young’s red-hot start to the season, the rest of the team hasn’t had to rely heavily on anyone else on the offensive end. They’ve been left to focus on defense, Hunter’s calling card. He’ll have to be ready in this matchup as Harris is coming off of a 29-point performance against the Pistons on Saturday. Harris is the exact type of matchup the Hawks envisioned Hunter having the ability to shut down. The rookie out of Virginia stands at 6-7 and weighs in at 225 pounds. Harris is one of the more prolific scorers at the small forward position but Hunter has the tools to make it a tough night.
Al Horford vs. John Collins
Two bigs that are comfortable playing on the perimeter, but who’s games could not be more different. Horford brings the old-man game: he plays at a slow pace, sets hard screens, is always in the right defensive position and is always looking to make the extra pass. Collins is a high-flying four that is always a threat to deliver a couple of highlight plays per game. The contrast between the two make for an interesting matchup and if the Hawks are going to have a chance they are going to need Collins to shoot better from the 3-point line (he’s shooting 25 percent through two games).
Trae Young is my top fantasy pick for daily fantasy. While expectations should be tamed for his hot shooting (55 percent from three) his rebounds and assists should keep coming, especially early in the season. He’s available for $9k on FanDuel with his projected points set at 43.6.
Joel Embiid is listed as questionable due to an ankle injury and a lacerated lip. If he is set to go then his projected fantasy points stand at 44.9 on FanDuel. Although he usually has a high salary, at $10.5k today, Embiid is always a safe bet to record big numbers, especially going against the thin options the Hawks will roll out at center.
Bet on Matchup
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