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Preview and Game Thread #2: Atlanta Hawks vs Philadelphia 76ers

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Atlanta Hawks 10-11 Season Game #1

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1-0
0-1
Wells Fargo Center
October 29th, 2010, 7:00 PM
Sports South, 99X FM, Pre and Post Game Show 680 The Fan, NBA Audio League Pass
Probable starters:
Mike Bibby PG Jrue Holiday
Joe Johnson SG Andre Iguodala
Marvin Williams SF Jason Kapono
Josh Smith PF Elton Brand
Al Horford C Spencer Hawes


Hawks Injuries: Pape Sy (back), Mo Evans (knee) are out.

76ers Injuries: None Reported

SB Nation 76ers Blog: Liberty Ballers

Game Preview:

The Hawks roll into Philly fresh of an opening night win over the Memphis Grizzlies. The team will be without Mo Evans tonight due to a knee injury. While the Hawks looked outstanding in their season opening victory, we want to see consistency and that means coming ready to play each and every night. A second straight road win would be a great way to head into the home opener tomorrow.

The Sixers come in at 0-1 after a 97-87 loss to Miami on Wednesday. The bright spot for the Sixers on opening night was the play of rookie Evan Turner. Turner finished the game with 16 points, 7 rebounds, and 4 assists. Jordan Sams of the Sixers blog Liberty Ballers compares this Doug Collins coached team to last years Eddie Jordan team:

The difference between an Eddie Jordan-coached team and a Doug Collins-coached team was evident. The Sixers had a lot of 'no layups' fouls tonight. They fought till the very end, almost making a game out of it. They were active defensively, and patched together rebounds. And even though Collins played a lot of small ball, his rotations made a lot more sense than Eddie Jordan's.

Keys to the Game:

One of the big things to watch for tonight will be how the Hawks try and deal with the Sixers point guards. Both Jrue Holiday and Lou Williams can be tough covers for Mike Bibby and perhaps Jamal Crawford. If the Sixers start Jason Kapono, coach Drew may elect to have Bibby guard him with Marvin Williams checking Andre Iguodala and Joe Johnson matched up on Holiday. At any rate this could be a game that the team needs Jeff Teague to come in and play some valuable minutes defensively.

I am looking for a bounce back game from Al Horford tonight and attacking Spencer Hawes could be a great place to start. Elton Brand will also play some center tonight for the Sixers but either Josh Smith or Horford should be able to muscle their way inside. Hawes was injured most of the exhibition season and struggled in the opening loss to the Heat. Marreese Speights was an afterthought on the bench and only logged 3 minutes of action.

Another key will be the bench and how they handle the loss of Mo Evans. That will mean more time for Joe Johnson at Small Forward and perhaps Jamal Crawford logging a few more minutes than he did in the opener. It also could mean a bigger lineup with Josh Smith manning the three spot. The Hawks will need Crawford to provide some offense to offset his defensive shortcomings. Philly has a strong bench as well with players like Lou Williams and Thad Young both available off the bench. Still I think the Hawks will have an advantage inside athletically and should look to take advantage of it.

I expect this to be pretty good game as the Sixers are 0-1 and Doug Collins will have them ready to play tonight to try and get off the snide. Neither team is feeling much pressure at this point but as Hawks fans we want to see some consistency from this team. A second straight game on the road where they bring energy and defensive intensity will go a long way in signaling that this team is for real and many of the prognosticators that overlooked them in the preseason were wrong.

Go Hawks!