Philadelphia 76ers vs Atlanta Hawks preview: Atlanta tries to slow down surprising Sixers

Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

The Philadelphia 76ers have surprised everyone through the early part of the season and the Atlanta Hawks will try to slow them down literally Friday night when the two teams tangle at Philips Arena.

On the surface a 5-4 record through nine games probably wouldn't raise a lot of eyebrows around the NBA. However, when that team is the Philadelphia 76ers who was regarded as the team that did the most to ensure they would have the most ping pong balls in play in this year's lottery its a story. If the Sixers are tanking then the front office forgot to tell its players and new head coach Brett Brown.

Philadelphia already has wins over Miami, Chicago and Houston this season. Their story is refreshing to myself because this roster isn't stocked with talent and they are showing that on many levels hard work, heart and good coaching still matter in the league.

SB Nation's Mike Prada recently talked about Philly's early success and how they were using an elevated pace to their advantage. The Sixers are currently the second fastest team in the league in terms of pace and just behind the league leading Lakers. Transition defense has been an issue for the Atlanta Hawks at times this season and they will need to be focused in that aspect tonight against Philadelphia.

The Hawks have also been playing faster this season although their pace has slipped recently thanks to a string of games against slower opponents. Atlanta is averaging 103 points per game this season and has climbed to 16th in defensive efficiency after an atrocious start to the season. The defense is still a huge concern on the perimeter where the Hawks have surrendered a lot of open three point looks. Philadelphia comes in shooting 35 percent from deep but the Knicks entered Wednesday's game shooting 32 percent and made 12 in route to victory.

Rookie point guard Michael Carter-Williams sat out Wednesday's win over the Rockets with a foot injury. Tony Wroten got the start in his place and recorded a triple double with 18 points, 10 rebounds and 11 assists. James Anderson scored a career-high 36 points in the win including 6-for-8 shooting from three-point range. Hawks fans might remember Anderson who went to training camp with Atlanta prior to the 2012-13 season.

This game is also the first matchup between Mike Budenholzer and Brett Brown who were both a part of Gregg Popovich's coaching staff in San Antonio last season. Both naturally have some similar philosophies and it will be an interesting chess match between the two.

Game Info

Game date/time: Friday, November 15, 7:30 p.m.

Location: Philips Arena, Atlanta, Georgia

TV: No local broadcast

Radio: 92.9 FM "The Game"

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