The Atlanta Hawks are showing well deserved faith in Onyeka Okongwu.

Atlanta Hawks. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports
Atlanta Hawks. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports /

There was not much going for the Atlanta Hawks coming into the game against the Philadelphia 76ers. It was the second night of a back to back, where they had lost the first leg to the lowly Orlando Magic. They had so many players out due to COVID and injury and had to curtail Joel Embiid somehow.

Head coach Nate McMillan could have been forgiven for starting the more experienced Gorgui Dieng at the center position. Instead, McMillan decided to give the nod to Onyeka Okongwu who has been playing really well since he came back from injury.

The next choice was who was going to take Embiid on the defensive end of the court? There were really only two options, either Okongwu or John Collins. Fortunately, the bench boss gave the not to Okongwu again and the rest, as they say, is history.

The Atlanta Hawks used Onyeka Okongwu to stop Joel Embiid

Any time you are able to hold Joel Embiid to under his scoring and rebounding averages, you have done a good job. Then take into account you were able to do this without you best defender in Clint Capela and you have pulled off a tremendous game.

Embiid had 23 points, 10 rebounds, three blocks, two assists, and a steal in 35 minutes on the court. To counter that, Okongwu had 13 points, eight rebounds, three blocks, three assists, and a steal in 34 minutes on the court. That has to be seen as a net win for the Hawks.

Thanks to this effort, and Bogdan Bogdanovic heating up down the stretch, the Hawks were able to pull out the unlikeliest of away wins against one of the better teams in the league. For a team that has defensive issues when Capela sits, this was a step in the right direction.

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As the season progresses it is going to be interesting to see how much game time Okongwu gets. He is stronger offensively this season and brings energy to the court every time that he plays.He is going to be a positive influence when he is on the court this season for the Hawks.