Mar 06 2013

Game 60 Preview: Welcome to Atlanta where the players play

Philadelphia 76ers (23-36; 6-20 Road) @ Atlanta Hawks (33-26; 18-10 Home)

Time: 7:00 PM ET

Offensive Rating: Philadelphia – 98.5 (27th); Atlanta – 102.5 (15th)
Defensive Rating: Philadelphia – 102.3 (12th); Atlanta – 101.3 (10th)

Vegas: Atlanta -8

Preview: This one won’t be quite as ugly as Friday’s Miami game, but all signs are pointing to a double-digit loss. Atlanta will have fresh legs after its tough six-game road trip and Philly is coming off last night’s energy consuming loss to Boston where Jrue Holiday and Evan Turner played 40+ minutes, and even Arnett Moultrie got some run. He might need a few days to recharge.

The Hawks aren’t playing poorly despite owning a three-game losing streak. Their losses came against Denver (nobody beats Denver on the road), the Lakers (nearly .500!) and the Suns (earned street cred with their recent win over the Spurs). Things have changed since the Sixers beat the Hawks 99-80 back in December. Now there’s no Jason Richardson, no hope of Andrew Bynum, no Lou Williams. Kyle Korver is game-time-decision with a big toe injury but with or without the three-point sniper, the Hawks will be in good shape tonight.

Atlanta coming in: Lost to the Nuggets 104-88 in Denver.

Three things to watch:

1. Big Al. Since the All-Star break, Horford is shooting 64 percent and averaging 24 points per game. He went 2-of-10 in the December meeting when defended by Lavoy Allen and Thaddeus Young, so expect to see more Allen (who played three minutes last night) and less Spencer Hawes.

2. Will Jrue come through? Holiday had trouble against Avery Bradley’s stifling defense, committing five turnovers and shooting 6-of-17 (18 points). He’ll have another tough matchup tonight against quick-handed Jeff Teague, who could force Jrue into another turnover-happy night.

3. Mr. 10,000. He scored his 10,000th point on Monday night in Denver and even if he stays in love with the dreaded “long two,” the 27-year-old could wind up with 10,000 more. Smith has the 18th most shots attempted from 16-24 feet away from the basket and has made only 30.2 percent — one of the lowest rates in the NBA. Thaddeus Young will try and bait Smith into taking jump shots instead of getting inside the paint where he is infinitely more efficient.

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