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Hawks vs. 76ers Preview: Atlanta tries to right ship against improved Philadelphia

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The Hawks will travel to Philadelphia on Thursday night for a matchup against the suddenly not so bad 76ers.

Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

Much like when the Hawks met up with the 76ers in mid-December, the team is in dire need of an easy victory to get things rolling again as the new year hasn't been kind to Atlanta.

After that aforementioned win against Philly, the Hawks went on to six straight games. That streak has been soured by the current stretch though -- three losses in their last four games.

Both teams are trending in different directions when looking at one area -- point guard play.

On Atlanta's side of things, coach Mike Budenholzer has implemented some interesting rotations at the point guard spot in the last few games. After Dennis Schröder received back-to-back DNP-CD's, the backup point guard was in the game during crunch time for the Hawks' loss to the Knicks on Tuesday night instead of Jeff Teague, who recorded his first game without an assist in nearly two years. Teague has a total of just 15 assists with 13 turnovers over his past four games, which the Hawks are 1-3 in.

Contrarily, the 76ers have received their best play of the season at the point guard position as newly acquired Ish Smith has brought some much needed control to the system. Since arriving from New Orleans, Smith has averaged around 15 points and eight assists per game -- a huge improvement from what the once historically bad team was getting from his role. Philly is 3-3 in those six games meaning ... yes ... the Hawks and 76ers are in the same recent form over their past six games.

Of note for the 76ers, Jahlil Okafor returned to their starting lineup on Monday and is expected to remain there for Thursday's game. Also, former Hawk Elton Brand could potentially make his season debut for Philadelphia after being signed by his old team on Monday.

For Atlanta, this matchup provides the opportunity for some guys to get back in a nice rhythm against a team, that while is improved, is still really, really bad. An easy win and solid performances from the rotation would bode well as the Hawks eye a big matchup against Chicago on Saturday at Philips Arena.

Game Info

Game Date/Time: Thursday, January 7, 7 p.m. ET

Location: Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

TV: Fox Sports Southeast, NBA League Pass

Radio: 92.9 "The Game" FM