The Philadelphia 76ers and Atlanta Hawks will meet on Friday night for the second time this season. The Sixers blew out the Hawks in the first meeting earlier this season, and have since added Jimmy Butler. Philadelphia is clearly one of the top teams in the Eastern Conference this season, while the Hawks are battling for the most ping pong balls in the upcoming draft lottery.
Atlanta comes into this game having lost five of their last six games. The Hawks are just 12-29 on the season and sit in last place in the Southeast Division. Philadelphia had their four-game winning streak snapped in their most recent game, but are still playing well of late. The Sixers are 27-15 this season and sit just 3.5 games behind the Toronto Raptors in the Atlantic Division. Philadelphia is -14.5 over Atlanta in this game.
Sixers Have Their Own “Big 3”
The latest trend in the NBA has been to assemble a trio of superstars on one team, and the 76ers have that on their roster. Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons, and Jimmy Butler give the Sixers three superstars, but now the question is if they can all play together. Philadelphia is averaging 114.6 points per game this season and has the ability to light up the scoreboard. The Sixers still have some work to do on the defensive end of the floor, as they are giving up over 112 points per game.
Center Joel Embiid has been the best player for the 76ers this season. Embiid is averaging 26.9 points and 13.5 rebounds per game and is quickly becoming one of the best players in the NBA. Butler has played well since his arrival in Philadelphia but is also causing some off-court issues. Butler is averaging over 18 points per game, but he thinks he should be given more scoring opportunity. If the Sixers can get Butler fully on board, they will be tough to beat.
Hawks Don’t Play Any Defense
The biggest issue surrounding the Atlanta Hawks is their inability to defend anyone in the NBA. The Hawks are giving up a whopping 117.2 points per game this season, and are allowing opponents to shoot close to 48 percent from the field. Atlanta is trying to play a mix of young players and veterans, but neither group has bought in on defense. The Hawks gave up 113 points to Philadelphia in their first meeting and will need to improve on that in this game.
Rookie point guard Trae Young has shown flashes of greatness this season, but he still has plenty of room to improve. Young is averaging 15.5 points and 7.3 assists per game but is struggling to shoot from deep. The former Oklahoma Sooners star is shooting just 28 percent from the three-point line, and the Hawks need him to be much better going forward.
Philadelphia Blows Out Atlanta
The Sixers blew out the Hawks in their first meeting this season, and this game should be a repeat of that. Atlanta is still a few years away from competing for a playoff spot, and they have been awful on defense all season long. Look for the 76ers to jump on the Hawks early and cruise to a big win. 14.5 points is a really big spread, but the Sixers will cover in this game. Bet Philadelphia -14.5 over Atlanta on Friday night.