The Sixers looked good in their win over Atalanta, 109-94. I have been very disappointed with the way they came out of the gates, but now they seem to be playing hard again. Guards are running to get on the offensive glass, their defense is swarming, they look like they will get back into the playoff discussion (they're a game behind Milwaukee). Atlanta didn't look to be in top form, they lacked the effort and determination the Sixers came out with.
Marreese Speights really impressed me with his play tonight. He hit the glass, made some jumpers, showed his whole game. He just had an overall efficient game, his +/- was a team-high 16. 10 of his 12 points came in the fourth, he played big when it mattered.
Atlanta has got to pick up their intensity. They've lost four of their last five, and the losses are by an average of 11.6 per game. The problem is not their team, although Horford being out for the next three games hurts (bruised knee), the problem is fire and intensity. If they can come out, win the first quarter by five or more points, I think that will keep them at their best for 48 minutes. Tonight, both teams started packing it in with two minutes left. The shots the Sixers got were good looks, that's a no-no. No matter what the score, players have to get up into their man and make each and every shot as difficult as they can.
The next stretch of games for Atlanta is a perfect time to catch fire. After Tuesday's game against the Suns, they've got teams like the Clippers, Warriors, Bucks, Bulls and Raptors. If they can have a good stretch there, they can get back to playing the elite teams tough.
Photo by: Scott Cunningham