The Atlanta Hawks will try to hang onto their position in the Eastern Conference play-in tournament when they host the Philadelphia 76ers in their final home game of the regular season on Friday
The Hawks (41-39) sit in eighth place in the East, having won three straight games after beating the visiting Washington Wizards 134-116 on Wednesday. They lead the ninth-place Toronto Raptors (40-40) by one game with two games remaining, and Atlanta holds the tiebreaker
The Sixers (52-28) have already clinched the No. 3 spot in the East. They were hammered 129-101 by the visiting Miami Heat on Thursday and have lost two of their past three and five of their past eight.
"We didn't come to play," Philadelphia coach Doc Rivers said after the Miami defeat. "We didn't have great energy. ... A very difficult game to have energy, honestly. It was an exercise tonight. Clearly you knew they were going to come with everything they had."
The same likely can be said of the Hawks on Friday
This will be the fourth meeting of the season between the clubs. The Hawks won the first meeting in Atlanta and the Sixers won the next two in Philadelphia, most recently 104-101 on Nov. 28
Atlanta center Clint Capela typically plays well against the Sixers. He had 18 points and 20 rebounds against Philadelphia on Nov. 10.
Capela and Onyeka Okongwu are in line to finish with the highest single-season field-goal percentages in franchise history. Capela is currently at 65.1 percent, and Okongwu is at 63.9 percent. The record of 63.3 percent was set by Dwight Howard in 2016-17, and Capela sits second on the list with his 61.3 percent from 2021-22.
The Los Angeles Clippers' Mason Plumlee and Ivica Zubac are the only other teammates who rank among the top 10 in field-goal percentage this season.
Led by the play of Okongwu, the Hawks have benefited from their bench depth, even though De'Andre Hunter has missed the past four games with a left knee strain and Bogdan Bogdanovic sat out on Wednesday for load management. Jalen Johnson and AJ Griffin came off the bench to score 16 points apiece in the win over Washington
"We have a lot of guys who are prepared," Atlanta coach Quin Snyder said. "There are limited minutes and some tough decisions have to be made. One of the things about our bench is the acceptance of a role. To put the team first is not something you take for granted."
Rivers said the Sixers need to continue to move the ball on offense and not simply rely on Joel Embiid (33.1 points, 10.2 rebounds) in order to be effective. Embiid was limited to 12 points and six rebounds in the loss to the Heat.
"We've got to control the tempo," Rivers said. "We get stagnant, we get stuck, the ball sticks and that's what we can't do. We've got to play with movement and pace. When that doesn't happen is when we need Joel's greatness to bail us out, and sometimes that's not good enough."
The Sixers held Tyrese Maxey out of Thursday's game due to neck stiffness, and De'Anthony Melton exited for the night in the third quarter because of a right calf strain. Rivers also plans to manage minutes over the last week before the playoffs begin.
--Field Level Media