After a 10-point loss/moral victory to the Miami Heat, the nascent 76ers welcome the 1-0 Atlanta Hawks into the WFC for some high-quality Friday basketball action. Tanner did a great job recapping the offseason in his first game preview, so I'll save your eyeballs from doing it again here. Instead, my patented bullet points of things to look for!
Mike's Patented Bullet Points of Things to Look For!
Balanced Scoring for the Hawks - Against the Grizzlies, Atlanta had six players in double-digits and four with 15+ points. Because no one really demands the ball, they run an uptempo offense that results in opportunities for Josh Smith, Mike Bibby and Joe Johnson. It's a balanced attack that, if the Sixers plan on starting five players (odds are good), the Hawks will have some mismatches they can exploit.
- Zaza Pachulia - Al Horford may be sidelined with the toe injury he's been dealing with this preseason, so 'Za could be getting the starting spot. Against a Marc Gasol-less Grizzlies, Pachulia got 17 points on just 7 shots, pulling down 11 rebounds with it. He'll be trouble for the Sixers bigs for more reasons than just the language barrier. I expect Elton Brand to be on him, but if Josh Smith is playing the four, I can't see any way Collins would stay with Spencer Hawes or Marreese Speights to stick him. Expect a lot of Thaddeus Young at the four tonight.
- Jamal Crawford - I'm confident that Jamal Crawford, a truly mediocre basketball player, will get 30+ points against us tonight with at least five three-pointers. While the stats don't defend my point, and they rarely do, he's one of those guys that seems to murder us each time he plays us. I'd like to see how Evan Turner matches up with him.
- More Evan Turner - Speaking of Evan, I loved his game on Wednesday. Loved it. The rebounding, which has been there all preseason, really shined and that'll be a great asset for him going forward. I expect he'll still be on the bench, but as long as he's getting at least twenty minutes a night, I'm good for now. Staying with Joe Johnson should be a good test as well. I want both Evan and Andre Iguodala to take it into the lane more and open up opportunities for the weak side big men down low for the flush.
- Jrue Holiday vs. Mike Bibby - I don't think Mike Bibby is a particularly good player, especially now that he's basically been relegated to outside shooter. Jrue shouldn't let Bibby by him all night. Whether he's in his own head with all the "Top 5" talk is unknown, but to get back to where he needs to be, defense is how it starts. Don't double off Bibby because he'll nail the straightaway jump shot all day long. Offensively, I'd like to see more movement from him as well. It's early and he's 20 years old so, again, I'm not worried.
Enjoy the game and head over to Peachtree Hoops for some delicious peaches and even deliciouser commenting! Jordan's got your recap -- I'm going to Las Vegas tonight. Wish me and the Sixers luck in surviving.