The Atlanta Hawks need to try Danilo Gallinari on Joel Embiid

JAtlanta Hawks. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports
JAtlanta Hawks. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports /

The Atlanta Hawks are two games away from being eliminated from the playoffs by the Philadelphia 76ers. A big reason for this is Joel Embiid has changed the way the Hawks have had to play defense. Clint Capela, an excellent defender, has struggled with Embiid’s range.

Capela is much more comfortable playing close to the basket on defense, patrolling the paint using his length to block or alter shots. Embiid pulls Capela away from his comfort zone and this has had multiple implications for the Hawks.

It has allowed the 76ers to get decent looks closer to the rim and then the Hawks are also giving up multiple offensive rebounds. The 76ers then used these rebounds to get higher percentage second chance looks. This had the impact of continuing the 76ers momentum, despite the fact the Hawks’ defense had forced a bad shot.

The Atlanta Hawks should try starting Danilo Gallinari.

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In the third game of the series, the 76ers simply carved up the Hawks in the paint, something that does not happen when Capela is at home. If the Hawks started Danilo Gallinari then they could switch up defensive assignments to allow Capela to stay at home.

Gallinari starts most defensive plays at the top of the arc, it is here that he could pick up Embiid. If the 76ers center decides to take Gallinari into the paint, the Italian is 6’10” and is only seven pounds lighter than Capela. This would not make Embiid’s physical advantage much greater than the one he already has.

Capela would then be able to patrol the paint, making cross-court passes more difficult. He would also be able to provide the help defense which the Hawks’ smaller guys are currently trying to do on Embiid. The problem is Embiid is drawing contact on them and getting to the line, where he is a really good free-throw shooter.

This would also mean that Capela would be able to force Tobias Harris to shoot from a little further out. He has been highly efficient from the mid-range which has made Embiid even more dangerous.

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John Collins would then have Ben Simmons as his primary assignment. The fourth-year pro out of Wake Forest has done a reasonable job on Simmons when he has been his responsibility. This would mean that the Hawks bench will have lost some of its firepower but that is a risk the Hawks need to take.