Scouting Report: Philadelphia 76ers
First-year head coach Brett Brown has the Philadelphia 76ers in first place in a division that includes both the Knicks and Nets. Yes, it’s early, but at this point the Sixers probably qualify as the surprise team in the East. On Friday, the former San Antonio assistant will lead is club into Atlanta to face ex-coaching mate Mike Budenholzer, who has the Hawks playing pretty well so far.
Six guys are averaging double figures for Philadelphia, led by Evan Turner’s 23 per game. Turner is a very difficult player to defend because of his athleticism. He’s a slasher, so Atlanta’s main focus needs to be making him shoot from the perimeter. He’s shooting just 16 percent from three, and that has historically been his weakness (if he has one). I suspect DeMarre Carroll will be assigned to him to start the game, and he’s probably the Hawks’ best perimeter defender.
Jeff Teague will have his hands full with the much bigger Michael Carter-Williams at point guard. MCW didn’t play against Houston Wednesday, but he could be back Friday against Atlanta. He’s off to a very impressive start and has an opportunity to post Teague up down low. Atlanta may need to help if Carter-Williams has his way.
Spencer Hawes is a center who can step out and shoot, so Al Horford will have to be mindful of that. Hawes isn’t as athletic as Horford, but his ability to stretch defenses can open up driving lanes for Turner and Carter-Williams. It’ll be important for the Hawks to have good 1-on-1 defense against Philadelphia because helping could be costly against a good-shooting team like them.
The Sixers also like to run. They have a team that takes turnovers and missed shots and turns them into fast break points. They also rank in the top 10 in field goal percentage, assists and rebounding, so they are a very well-rounded team in the season’s first two weeks. Coach Bud has stressed transition defense, and I think the Hawks will be tested in that area Friday night.
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