Initial Reaction: 76ers 117, Hawks 83

Quick Thought: That was not good.

Summary: 

The Hawks got spanked early and often by a Philadelphia team that came into the game with the game plan of exploiting the obvious weaknesses of the Hawks: Poor perimeter defense, poor transition defense, and a proclivity of settling for jump shots.

When the Hawks win, its usually because they either play a team that can't take advantage of all or some of those at the same time, or they pull it together and take care of transition defense and/or the settling for jumpers. Let the record show they, through no amount of the fabled "energy", V-based or otherwise, cannot ever take care of the perimeter defense.

Against Philadelphia, the Hawks laid down their swords on all three fronts, thanks in large part to Doug Collins deciding to blitz the Hawks perimeter, lay back on defense and dare Atlanta to shoot jump shots, and immediately double-teaming Joe Johnson as soon as he touched the ball in the post.

This strategy and its flawless execution by the guests got the Hawks down early, and then Philly turned up the heat by playing 4 guards at a time, exacerbating the defensive issues while the Hawks were not able/willing to make them pay by going inside. Instead, the Hawks kept on firing away from the outside, turned the ball over (a lot), didn't get back on defense, and lay the foundation for a blowout loss at home with a 33-15 first quarter.

Let's be clear: This had nothing to do with coming out flat or any other myth. It has to do with poor perimeter defense, lack of execution on offense, accepting a homogeneous shot selection that doesn't involve the paint, and carelessly turning over possessions.

To quote Mr. Flanders, they tried nothing...and they were all out of ideas.

Also:

This was easily the worst game I have ever witnessed Joe Johnson play as a Hawk. He was completely stymied by the double-teams Philly threw out, throwing the ball and the Hawks offense away on multiple occasions. He followed that up by being two steps slow defensively, though one can hardly blame the mileaged 6'8 shooting guard for not being able to keep up with the 20 year old Jrue Holiday. He committed bad fouls and wrapped the game by scoring a .09 in the production column. (points+reb+ast+stl+blks-TO/min---1.00 is a great game)

Larry Drew can keep his Coaches Union card because, with 6:50 seconds left in the third quarter, down 34, he sat Joe Johnson with 4 fouls so he wouldn't get into further foul trouble. Consider it took him 10-12 more game minutes to finally completely clear the bench, one would think you would roll the dice and keep Joe out there to see if you could make a run, despite his puny production at that point. But, that would break the 4 fouls in the third quarter rule, so that was the game for Joe. On the bright side, he did not foul out.

When the Sixers went small, so did the Hawks, leaving Josh to play center, but the problem is that the Hawks don't use second round picks on useful players like Louis Williams (45th pick overall) or Jodie Meeks (41st overall by MIL) to provide young depth and so the Hawks had to counter with Jamal Crawford, Mo Evans and Damien Wilkins to help and, while they certainly played hard and tried--thereby wearing their Proven Veteran labels well--their lack of foot speed, defensive acumen, and quickness (match where appropriate) compared to their Philadelphia colleagues couldn't stop the Philly scoring party.

Sure, Jeff Teague and Jordan Crawford played, and Teague was actually alright, but he logged only 8 1/2 minutes of basketball in the first three quarters. So, in a game where the Sixers attacked the Hawks' older, defensively challenged perimeter and was lacking lane aggression on offense on a night where they couldn't make much from outside, Jeff Teague played 24 percent of the possible minutes and Mike Bibby played 60 percent.

When you see Josh Smith score three times inside, over, around, and through Elton Brand, you wonder that Josh ever sees in that tramp, the jump shot.

Silver Lining:

It's a long way until Saturday when the Hawks play their next game against Charlotte...maybe by then this will feel like it was an exhibition game.

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