Can the Sixers Contain Trae Young?
Next up for the Sixers is Trae Young and the Atlanta Hawks.
While the biggest question that needs to be be answered in this series is the health of Joel Embiid, the next question is how do they stop Trae Young.
Embiid's right knee is will be a huge factor in this series and while the Sixers are the favorite to win, it will be a much more difficult task if Embiid is sidelined.
There is no question that Embiid's injury drastically changes this series, but there sounds like there is some hope that the big man can make his return for Game 1 or at least at some point in the series.
Sixers head coach Doc Rivers said Embiid "did what he could" the past two days at practice, while Dwight Howard stated that he "looked like his old self" at practice, both good signs that could lead to an Embiid return at some point.
This brings us to what we will cover here: the Sixers’ defense against the Hawks’ offense.
All three of the matchups between these two teams occurred with multiple players missing time. The Sixers played an early game in Atlanta without Ben Simmons and other key players. In that game Dakota Mathis played over 30-minutes to give you an indication of how short-handed the Sixers were that day.
The Sixers defeated the Hawks in back-to-back games in April, however in one of the games the Hawks were without Trae Young.
So who will get the assignment to guard Young?
Probably an assortment of defenders including Simmons, Mattise Thybulle, Danny Green and George Hill. How much we see Simmons on Young will likely depend on Embiid's status. With Embiid on the court, the Sixers could use more of Simmons on the perimeter. Without Embiid. the team might need to use more of Simmons in the post area or against bigger guys like Clint Capella or John Collins.
Atlanta will use also use Capella setting the ball screens in the pick-n-roll game with Young. Without Embiid out there, the Sixers might be forced to use more of Dwight Howard, which obviously presents a challenge on the offensive end of the floor for the team. Another set you'll see the Hawks use a lot against the Sixers defense is with Capella or Danilo Gallinari setting the screen at the top of the key, causing Young to put a lot of pressure on the defense, which allowed an open look for Bogdanovic.
The Hawks present more of a size challenge than the vertically challenged Wizards.
Bogdan Bogdanovic is a bigger two-guard and presents some issues for Seth Curry, if they choose to use Curry on him. The Sixers will likely use Tobias Harris against John Collins or if Embiid is unable to play, use Harris on Capella. De'Andre Hunter status for Game 1 is questionable, but if he plays, Danny Green could get that call.
All of these matchups present different challenges than the Wizards.
You can listen to the Sixers and Wizards at 1 p.m. on 97.3 ESPN with Tom McGinnis calling all the action.