Photo Courtesy of Jesse D. Garrabrant/Getty Images
The Hawks concluded their season series against the Philadelphia 76ers in Friday’s 126-104 loss, suffering back-to-back losses to the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference. Trae Young returned to the starting lineup after sustaining a left ankle sprain against the New York Knicks a week ago.
Atlanta began the game with a 13-4 run as a defensive trio of Tony Snell, Clint Capela, and Solomon Hill held their own over a ten-minute time span. Young dictated the pace early on for the Hawks who got out to a quick 13-point lead, but the team cooled down once he exited the game.
Capela got into early foul trouble picking up his third midway through the second quarter as the Hawks were forced to roll with a Collins and Gallinari frontcourt. Due to Capela’s absence MVP candidate Joel Embiid and Dwight Howard dominated the paint early on.
Howard went on to finish the game with a double-double tallying 19 points and 11 rebounds as he continues to be an underrated part of a deep Sixers squad.
After the Hawks led by 13, Philadelphia proceeded to outscore the Hawks on a 57- 25 run closing out the first half with a 19-point lead and cruised to a much-needed victory.
Despite the return of Trae Young who finished with 32 points and four assists, the Hawks lacked offensive production elsewhere with Bogdan Bogdanovic, De’Andre Hunter, and Kevin Huerter all ruled out.
The Hawks are now at the final stretch of the regular season sitting as the 5th seed in the Eastern Conference and are 1.5 games behind the 4th seeded Knicks. Atlanta takes on the Chicago Bulls tomorrow in a must-win game with only 8 games remaining as the team braces for a playoff run.