Scouting Report: Philadelphia 76ers
After an unexpected lengthy break between games, the Atlanta Hawks will get back at it Friday night against the Philadelphia 76ers, who are riding high after a 1-point, buzzer-beating win in Boston on Wednesday.
The Sixers didn’t have runaway Rookie of the Year candidate Michael Carter-Williams when the teams met in Atlanta in November. Carter-Williams is third on the team in scoring and leads in assists and steals. More importantly, his size (6’6″) creates matchup problems for teams with smaller point guards, and the Hawks will have to deal with that whether it be Jeff Teague or Shelvin Mack that guards him. The one thing Carter-Williams has not yet developed is a consistent outside shot (29% 3PT FG, 40% FG), so giving him space will be the key to keep him out of the lane, where he can really use his size and athleticism.
Evan Turner is another athletic guard who gave the Hawks fits in the first meeting. Turner scored 27 of Philadelphia’s 103 points in November, doing so on 10-19 shooting. The Sixers love to run, and Turner is great in transition. In the half court, I think DeMarre Carroll will be able to guard him just fine, but finding him in transition will be the key.
One guy who has really improved is Thaddeus Young. He’s up to 17 points per game and has done so on an effective 48 percent shooting from the floor. He’s also the first frontcourt player since Karl Malone in 2001-02 to rank in the top 10 in the league in steals, so he’s very active defensively.
Carter-Williams and Young are actually 1-2 in the Eastern Conference in steals, which is remarkable since they’re on the same team. The Hawks must take care of the ball in order to keep the 76ers at bay, as they’ll quickly turn live-ball turnovers into fast-break points.
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