ATLANTA – Nerlens Noel made his was off the court at the 76ers morning shootaround to speak with media, his goggles hanging around his neck. Noel will miss his second straight game Wednesday when the Sixers face the Atlanta Hawks at Philips Arena after taking an elbow to his eye in Toronto on Sunday, courtesy of Kyle Lowry. Noel suffered a corneal abrasion and has been having trouble with blurred vision and is bothered by too much lighting, though he said that is all improving and hopes to be back in the lineup when the team returns home against the Knicks on Friday.
"It's been getting better every day," said Noel, who watched Monday's game against Chicago in his hotel room. "It's not much pain at all left with it. I'm just getting the vision back and it's been better every day, so that's the positive. I think it should be good to do in the next couple of days.
"The night hit happened I couldn't sleep that night because I had to put drops in it every hour of the night. That was good that it is definitely healable, back to 100 percent in less than a week."
Noel said that he did have a pretty good headache through the night when he took the elbow, but that he hasn't had it since and no mention of a concussion has ever come up. Noel said that he will probably wear the goggles for a couple of games, but not much longer after that. Told that maybe he should stick with the goggles, develop a sky hook and shave his head, Noel said that he'd give it some thought. He was quick to pick up on the Kareem Abdul-Jabbar reference.
Here's some things to look for tonight as the Sixers face the Hawks:
1. The play of Jahlil Okafor. The rookie has been on fire of late at the offensive end, averaging 22.3 points and 9.5 boards in his past four games. There just seems to be more of a comfortable feeling at the offensive end for the rookie. And there's no denying that he finds more space to operate on the floor when Nerlens Noel isn't on it.
2. The point guard rotation. Brett Brown corrected himself today, saying that both Tony Wroten and Kendall Marshall are still on 20-minute restrictions. Marshall is no doubt the team's starting point guard moving forward, so it will be interesting to see how Brown manages the minutes of those two along with Isaiah Canaan and T.J. McConnell.
3. The shooting of the Hawks. Mike Budenholzer's team had struggled with their outside shooting of late, which is not good for a team that relies significantly on that. The Hawks have lost three straight and, since a 7-1 start of the season, have gone 7-11. Atlanta is currently shooting just 34.1 percent from beyond the arc, which ranks them 18th in the league. They finished second a year ago, to Golden State, while making 38 percent.