If the Atlanta Hawks want to maintain their current position in the Eastern Conference then these are the games the Hawks must win. The Philadelphia 76ers are one of the worst teams in the NBA as evidenced by their 15-31 record on the season which means a loss tonight would be unacceptable given Atlanta’s winning record. Good teams should not lose to inferior opponents like the 76ers. Philly gives up an average of 109.5 point s per game which ranks them dead last in the league. The Hawks may bring a team depleted by injuries to Philadelphia, but this still doesn’t mean they should lose this game.
One player who’s a question mark going into this game is Jeff Teague. He was supposed to only miss two games following his ankle injury against the San Antonio Spurs and return Wednesday against the Detroit Pistons, but the Pistons game was canceled because of the winter storm that hit the Atlanta area. This means Teague has had more time to heal from his injury and if he plays he could provide a huge boost for the Hawks. Teague had 33 points and 10 assists in the win over the 76ers earlier this season.
Teague’s status is uncertain tonight, but even if he can’t go Shelvin Mack should fit right in to guide Atlanta to the win. In two games as the starter, Mack led the Hawks to a blowout win over the Milwaukee Bucks and almost captured a huge road win against the Oklahoma City Thunder if not for Kevin Durant‘s late game heroics. The Hawks may not have won both games, but the team managed to score over 100 points in both with Mack running the show which proves he is more than capable of leading the offense in Philadelphia tonight.
It shouldn’t matter which point guard takes the floor tonight when the Hawks have a player such as Paul Millsap on the floor. Millsap, who was just selected as a reserve for the NBA All-Star game, has been dominating opponents down low recently. In his last five games, he’s averaging 21.6 points per game and should provide another 20-plus point performance tonight against an undersized 76ers roster. Thaddeus Young is a great player in his own right, but he’s no match for Millsap on the defensive end. Millsap’s physicality and ability to get his own shot whenever he wants will prove to be too much for Young to handle down low in the paint.
The Hawks may not be at full strength in tonight’s game, but the players they do bring to Philadelphia should provide enough for Atlanta to get a much-needed road win to maintain their current position in the playoff picture.