December 10, 2023

What to watch as 76ers look to take 2-1 lead in Round 2 in Game 3, Tobias Harris named finalist for award


Photo by David Dow/NBAE via Getty Images

The Philadelphia 76ers’ second-round series has moved to Atlanta, where the Hawks are 19-2 since interim head coach Nate McMillan took over. They haven’t lost at State Farm Arena since April 15. 

Joel Embiid (small right lateral meniscus tear) was again officially listed as questionable on Thursday night’s injury report. 

Hawks forward De’Andre Hunter is out for the season with a right lateral meniscus tear. Cam Reddish (right Achilles soreness) and Brandon Goodwin (respiratory condition) are also sidelined. 

Here’s what to watch:

Can the Hawks stop Embiid?

Embiid has 79 points in the series on 46 field-goal attempts. 

The Hawks seemed to believe Clint Capela could handle him, but that matchup hasn’t worked thus far. Embiid got Capela, the sixth-place Defensive Player of the Year finisher, in foul trouble early in game two. John Collins had foul problems as well, picking up his sixth with 1:38 remaining. 

I imagine Atlanta will throw something different at Embiid (assuming he plays), whether it’s occasionally fronting the post, more consistent double teams, or another schematic wrinkle. Embiid can’t beat the Hawks on his own, but Atlanta likely won’t win this series if Embiid scores nearly 40 points per game very efficiently. 

Positive looks from the turnover side

Sixers head coach Doc Rivers claimed turnovers as the ultimate reason why the Sixers lost game one. His team gave the ball away 12 times within the opening 14 minutes.

The Sixers’ turnover advantage was a significant factor in their game two victory. They forced 18 Atlanta turnovers, which led to 28 points. The Sixers only committed nine turnovers and scored 20 of the game’s 29 fast-break points.

Three of the Sixers’ 10 best games this season in terms of turnover percentage have been against the Hawks, per Cleaning the Glass

Their late-April wins over Atlanta aren’t worthy of much analysis given the Hawks were missing key players. Still, the Hawks were 29th this year in opponents’ turnover percentage and the Sixers have mostly taken care of the ball against them, which seems to bode well. 

Harris named finalist for Kareem Abdul Jabbar social justice champion award

The NBA announced Friday the five finalists for the inaugural Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Social Justice Champion award. Sixers forward Tobias Harris is among them. 

Per a league press release, the award, which will be given to a player annually, is for “pursuing social justice and advancing Abdul-Jabbar’s life mission to engage, empower and drive equality for individuals and groups who have been historically marginalized or systemically disadvantaged.”

Along with Harris, former Sixer Jrue Holiday, Carmelo Anthony, Harrison Barnes, and Juan Toscano-Anderson are finalists. 

The league will donate $100,000 to a social justice organization of the winner’s choosing, while the other four finalists will receive $25,000 donations. The finalists were selected by Abdul-Jabbar and a panel of social justice leaders. 

Once the concept of the award was revealed, Harris immediately looked like a contender. He’s diligent about his craft and also passionate, thoughtful and generous about off-court causes. 

Harris was a prominent voice against systemic racism and injustice last summer, protesting in Philadelphia following the murder of George Floyd and writing a Players’ Tribune essay that touched on police brutality, activism and educational inequalities. He dedicated a session with reporters in the NBA’s bubble to call for the arrest of the police officers involved in the death of Breonna Taylor.

Among the other work he’s done that’s highlighted in the league’s release:

  • Awarded $300,000 to The Fund for the School District of Philadelphia, in part to recruit teachers from HBCUs or diverse backgrounds.
  • Launched the Tobias’ Lit Labs and Tobias’ Top Teachers initiatives. Through the Lit Labs program, Harris provided 30,000 books to 8,000 kids in Philadelphia. Through the Top Teachers program, Harris focused on recruiting and retaining Black male teachers by funding 55 professional development workshops and giving classroom supplies to 800 new teachers. 
  • Helped the Sixers launch their “Vote 76” initiative ahead of last November’s general election.
  • Served as a player representative on the NBA Foundation board. 

The winner of the Social Justice Champion award will be announced before game four of the Eastern Conference Finals. 

Joel Embiid was named earlier this week as a finalist for the NBA’s Community Assist award. 


When: 7:30 P.M. E.S.T.

Where: State Farm Arena

Broadcast: ESPN

Radio: 97.5 The Fanatic

Social media coverage: Philly Sports Reports’ Twitter & Instagram.

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