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A Litmus Test in ATL

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For the Sixers, no matter how tough things get, they always have the Hawks. No matter how low, they can always bury Atlanta. Or at least that's the way things have gone over the past two seasons plus. Philly has dropped ATL six straight times, each one of those wins came immediately following a loss. We'll see if history can power the Sixers' through their nightly talent deficit.

A quick word on last night's game. In the comments after it was over I said the Sixers played well, Boston just hit a bunch of long shots. The numbers back that up. The Sixers had 46 attempts at the rim to only 13 long twos. The Sixers shot 7/34 outside of 15 feet (20.6%). The Celtics shot 19/38 outside 15 feet, and 11/19 (58%) from three. The game was lost at the start of the fourth when Collins went with a weak lineup. Jrue sparked an 8-0 run to pull the Sixers within 5 points heading into the final quarter. Boston opened on a 9-0 run pretty much put the game away with Jrue on the bench in the fourth. Jrue has to sit at some point, that stretch just buried them last night.

Now, Atlanta. Korver and Zaza are both questionable for tonight. It'd be great if they both missed the game. Zaza is the type of physical big who always gives Hawes and Co. fits with his hustle. Korver is Korver. I'd rather not deal with him getting good looks at threes. Al Horford remains Atlanta's best offensive weapon, he also remains woefully underused. Josh Smith's efficiency has dropped nearly to Evan Turner's level, while his usage is over 26%. The defensive game plan is to encourage Smith to take jumpers. He averages almost seven attempts per game beyond 15 feet, so he probably won't take a ton of convincing. Look at it this way, any time you get Josh Smith to take a shot that isn't a layup or a dunk, you've played smart defense. Horford, Teague, Morrow, DeShawn Stevenson, Zaza, Devin Harris. Every shot you can steer away from those guys and to Josh Smith is a win.

I wouldn't expect a whole lot from Thad tonight. Smith is a nightmare matchup for him. Quick enough to keep him in front, explosive enough to challenge his short shots if he does get in the lane. (As was pointed out in the comments, Thad has had no problems with Atlanta in the past. This was a bad assumption on my part without checking his career numbers).

Jrue vs. Teague should be a fun matchup. It'd be nice if Jrue's defense wasn't wasted on Dahntay Jones, but I'm pretty sure it will be. Jones will probably guard Jrue on the other end as well.

Hotlanta has dropped three straight, they haven't played since Monday but this is their first game back home after a long road trip. Last night, Turner played 44 minutes, Jrue played 42 and Ivey played 36. Really, Ivey played 36 minutes in a game? Wow. Anyway, probably going to see some tired legs. If the game is close in the fourth, advantage Atlanta.

The tip is at 7:30pm. I'll be watching on DVR. Use this as your game thread. Show of hands, who still roots for wins if/when you watch the games?
by Brian on Mar 6 2013
Tags: Atlanta Hawks | Basketball | Sixers |