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Feb 8, 2024 5:34 pm

Amid change, Sixers try to find footing vs. skidding Hawks

tyrese maxey

The Philadelphia 76ers continue to face the daunting challenge of trying to win games without reigning Most Valuable Player Joel Embiid.

It is not going to be easy.

The Sixers are 4-12 without Embiid and host the Atlanta Hawks on Friday.

Philadelphia has dropped three straight and seven of eight, including a lackluster 127-104 loss to the Golden State Warriors on Wednesday.

Ricky Council IV scored a career-high 17 points for the Sixers and Kenyon Martin Jr. added 15. Tobias Harris and All-Star Tyrese Maxey combined for only 25 though Maxey had been questionable with an illness.

Embiid had surgery on the lateral meniscus in his left knee Tuesday and will be re-evaluated in about four weeks.

In addition to Embiid, the Sixers were missing a number of key players such as De’Anthony Melton, Danuel House Jr., Marcus Morris Sr., Robert Covington and Nicolas Batum.

House was among the players involved in deals at Thursday’s deadline.

The team was active at the deadline, according to multiple reports, acquiring Buddy Hield from the Indiana Pacers for Furkan Korkmaz and Morris, along with three second-round picks and cash consideration.

Philadelphia traded House to the Detroit Pistons to create cap space for a potential signing, and also moved guard Patrick Beverley to the Milwaukee Bucks in exchange for guard Cameron Payne and a 2027 second-rounder.

The Sixers then traded Jaden Springer, their 28th overall pick in the 2021 draft, to Boston for a second-rounder.

The challenge remains significant, however.

“It isn’t just without Joel,” Sixers coach Nick Nurse said. “We need to get a little more of the firepower back and then the guys that are there need to be feeling a little bit closer to 100 percent, too. I have to say some guys are going out there and they are semi-sick, pretty sick, and not 100 percent.

“They’re trying, and some of the guys I thought that were still coming off illness were trying as hard as they could and just can’t go. The gas tank is a little empty.”

Somehow, the Sixers must find ways to win games and survive without Embiid.

“I’m concerned. I think we have to continue to fight through it,” Nurse said. “We’re going to have to look at tape and make adjustments and do some things better.”

The Hawks arrive in Philadelphia looking to snap a two-game losing streak.

Following a 149-144 setback to the Los Angeles Clippers on Monday, the Hawks fell 125-117 to the Boston Celtics on Wednesday.

Six players scored in double figures led by Saddiq Bey with 25. Trae Young, who was named as an All-Star replacement, added 20 points and 10 assists.

Young and the Toronto Raptors’ Scottie Barnes were named in place of Embiid and the New York Knicks’ Julius Randle.

Jalen Johnson had 19 points and 15 rebounds and Onyeka Okongwu contributed 19 points and 10 rebounds. Bogdan Bogdanovic scored 12 points and De’Andre Hunter chipped in with 10.

But it wasn’t enough.

“I thought the looks we had from 3 were clean,” Hawks coach Quin Snyder said. “The ball just didn’t accommodate us.”

The Hawks had won four in a row before the two latest losses to two of the top teams in the league.

Snyder said that he believes in his group.

“It’s hard to be disappointed with that effort,” he said. “Particularly, we felt like we had to really shoot the ball at a good clip and we weren’t able to see the ball go in. We had some good shots … they just didn’t go. We competed and battled.”

The Hawks played without Clint Capela for the second straight game with a strained muscle in his left hip. It’s unclear if Capela will return to face the Sixers.

– Field Level Media

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