Ten observations from watching Sixers 119, Hawks 109 on TV. . .
1. The Hawks lost their seventh straight game in familiar fashion: Fall behind big, rally to get back in it and then fade at the end. The Hawks were down by as many as 17 points in the first half before pulling within two at halftime and making it a game from there. The game descended into an ugly exhibition of ragged offensive possessions and fouls for much of the fourth quarter. The Hawks scored just 16 points in the period while the Sixers made better individual plays to pull away–especially Ben Simmons (19 points on 16 shots, 13 rebounds, nine assists).
2. The Sixers made 6 of 7 3-point attempts in the first quarter and 13 of 35 for the game. The Hawks keep saying that their opponents are making tough shots. But I see opponents creating lots of open 3-pointers with simple, one-pass actions. Sometimes it doesn’t even take that much because the Hawks just don’t show much urgency in guarding the line.
3. It looks as if Schroder’s ankle is 100 percent now. He was getting to the basket whenever he wanted and finished more times than not (25 points on 17 shots). Then again, the Sixers don’t really have anyone suited to staying in front of Schroder and their help defense wasn’t engaged. Schroder benefited from some friendly whistles on drives.
4. Kent Bazemore impacted the game while taking just four shots: 5-for-8 on free throws, four steals, three assists, three turnovers. He started playing more aggressively during Schroder’s injury absence and has kept it going since then. Bazemore is an underrated play-maker with a good feel for the timing on screen-roll passes.
5. Luke Babbitt (16 points on 12 shots) impacted the game while attempting just three 3-pointers. The Sixers seemed unaware that Babbitt can shoot if allowed to catch and fire. He did so from all over the court and alertly went to the basket when there were openings. But he also twice stepped on the sidelines while trying to make a move to the basket. Catch-and-shoot is in his lane.
6. I think it was a good idea for Hawks coaches to tell Isaiah Taylor (career-high eight points in 18 minutes) to be more aggressive on offense. But they probably are going to have to live with a few wild plays by Taylor amid the good ones as he learns to play more under control. He should know that he’s not going to get the kind of calls he was looking for tonight.
7. The Sixers staggered the Hawks from the jump and ran out to a 25-8 lead. It was an impressive display of pace, passing, offensive skill and shot-making by the Sixers. The Hawks had tough matchups all over the floor but it’s not as if they` offered much resistance.
8. After the Sixers took the early lead, Fox Sports Southeast Hawks reporter Andre Aldridge said coach Mike Budenholzer was “as animated as I’ve ever seen him” while chiding Hawks players for their defensive effort. The intensity picked up from there. It began with the starters and the second unit took it to another level.
9. As Budenholzer hinted at on Tuesday, he played lineups that included two point guards. Malcolm Delaney and Isaiah Taylor were together in the first half. Delaney sparked the Hawks comeback with his active hands and shot-making, and Taylor got them going with his drives to the basket. But then Delaney left the game with what the Hawks said was a sprained ankle and didn’t play in the second half. Tough luck for Delaney because he was having probably his best game of the season.
10. If Budenholzer is going to give both Delaney and Taylor regular minutes, that leaves Marco Belinelli as the only wing off the bench. I guess that means Tyler Dorsey and Nicolas Brussino will remain buried deep on the bench even with DeAndre’ Bembry on the injured list. Dorsey or Brussino may get minutes by default if Delaney’s ankle injury is serious.
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