Dec 21, 2012; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia 76ers guard Evan Turner (12) is defended by Atlanta Hawks center Al Horford (15) during the third quarter at the Wells Fargo Center. The Sixers defeated the Hawks 99-80. Mandatory Credit: Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Philadelphia 76ers (31-46) vs. Atlanta Hawks (42-36) Preview: Sixers Return from Brutal Road Trip

The Atlanta Hawks are in town tonight, as the Sixers’ four-game road trip came to an end on a horrible note last night in Brooklyn. Atlanta comes into Philadelphia with a playoff spot locked up, but seeding still yet to be determined.

Currently, the Hawks are sitting at the sixth seed in the Eastern Conference. With four games remaining, they are just a half game back of the Chicago Bulls for the fifth seed. While that may not seem like that big of a deal, it is a huge deal. If the Hawks finish where they are today, they will take on the Indiana Pacers, who have been the second seed for most of the season before the Knicks went on their win streak. If they finish fifth, they will play the Brooklyn Nets. Brooklyn has been much more inconsistent this season than Indiana, and is overall a better match-up for the Hawks.

Looking at this game, the Sixers have actually won seven of their last eight meetings with the Hawks, including four straight at home and Friday’s impressive road win. The Sixers, however,  have shot an embarrassing 38.9% from the field in their last two games, and finished 1-3 on their road trip.

In Friday’s win, the key to the game was the quick start the Sixers got off to. They scored a season-high 40 points in the first quarter on 16-of-22 shooting.

Atlanta’s best three players, Josh Smith, Al Horford, and Jeff Teague combined for just 29 points in that game. If the Sixers plan to continue their success against the Hawks, it will have to be more of the same.

Jrue Holiday has struggled mightily against Atlanta in their three meetings this season, averaging just 10.3 points on 28.2% shooting. Thaddeus Young, on the other hand, has had the Hawks’ number, averaging 16 points and 10 boards.

A familiar face will return to Philly for tonight’s game. Lou Williams will be back at the Wells Fargo Center on the Hawks’ sideline. Williams tore his ACL earlier this season and will miss the remainder of the season. Lou is beloved by Sixers’ fans, and I’m sure will receive a warm welcome.

 

Tags: Al Horford Atlanta Hawks Jeff Teague Josh Smith Jrue Holiday Louis Williams Philadelphia 76ers Thaddeus Young

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