Another game, another probably loss for the Sixers. Tonight, the 1-25 Sixers travel to Atlanta to play a Hawks team in desperate need of a pick-me-up.
The Hawks were one of the feel good stories from last year (unless you're Spike Eskin, in which case they were one of the most annoying stories from last year), in which a team without a true superstar overachieved to the tune of 60 wins despite pre-season expectations pegging them in the high 40's. Atlanta was a team that played incredibly well together, a finely-tuned engine that required all of its moving parts to work in perfect synchronicity to achieve the desired results, but when they did, those results were about as good as any team could achieve.
After allowing DeMarre Carroll to walk in free agency this summer, it wasn't clear whether Atlanta would be able to maintain their high level of play. Many pundits saw the team taking a step back this year, and so far that has been the case, as the current standings see the Hawks on the outside of the playoffs, looking up at Boston, Orlando, and Detroit, while sporting a (barely) negative point differential.
The last week has been tough for Atlanta, as they have dropped their last three games to the Heat, Spurs, and Thunder. Their biggest issue in those games (especially a 25 point loss to the Spurs) has been some uncharacteristically poor outside shooting. Jeff Teague and Kyle Korver, two of last year's All-Stars, have combined for a horrific 6-37 from deep against the Heat and Spurs. They'll be hoping to get their shots back on track against this team.
I don't have much to say that hasn't already been said about the Sixers this year. It's been a tough start to the season, to the point where it's been hard to motivate myself to watch this team. I knew what I was getting last year, with a team who worked their butts off on defense and could sometimes steal games by accumulating live ball turnovers, but this team hasn't looked much like last year's.
As Max said on Monday, there are positives to be taken from this start. Last year's team started only barely better, and didn't really turn the corner until the new year. Marshall and Wroten are back and still working their way into shape. Plus things have to get better, right?
A win tonight would be real nice.
- Nerlens is expected to miss his second straight game with a corneal abrasion he incurred against Toronto. Brett Brown said that the injury was less severe than expected, but that Nerlens would not be expected to play against Atlanta tonight.
- Okafor now has three straight games with 20 or more points and is going for number four tonight.
- After resting on Monday, Kendall Marshall should be back in the lineup tonight.
- With Nerlens out of the lineup again tonight, that hopefully means more opportunity for THE GREATEST PROSPECT THE SIXERS HAVE EVER HAD, Christian Wood. He hasn't gotten much playing time this year, but he continues to produce every time he does. I wouldn't expect him to play much tonight, but if Okafor and Richie Holmes need a break, expect to see my man come in and put up in a few minutes of action.
- Kyle Korver is really struggling this year. After shooting 49% on three's last year, he's down to only 39% and has made 4 three's in only two games so far.