The Sixers will be without starting center Spencer Hawes for the second straight game with an Achilles injury. With Hawes out, rookie center Nikola Vucevic is expected to get his second career start. They are 6-1 at home this year with their only loss coming at the hands of the Nuggets Wednesday night. The loss to the Nuggets was on the Sixers second loss in the month of January. They are getting good play from a whole mess of players. They have seven players scoring in double figures, lead by reserve guard Lou Williams. Starting SG Jodie Meeks is not one of the seven averaging in double figures, he is only averaging 8.7 points per game. The Sixers, as a team, are third in the league in points per game, averaging 101.4, and second in the league in points allowed per game at 87.4. They boast the highest point differential at +13.6. They are the only team to have a point differential greater than +10.
The Hawks come in playing good basketball. They have won four straight games and seven out of eight. They have won four straight games since All Star forward Al Horford tore his pectoral muscle on January 11th against Indiana. Since Horford went down, Joe Johnson has averaged 24.8 points per game and Josh Smith has averaged 20.8 points per game. They are getting strong point guard play from Wake Forest product Jeff Teague. Teague is averaging 12.4 points per game to go along with 5.8 assists per game. The key to the Hawks is how they begin the game. The Hawks are holding teams to an average of 20 points in the first quarter, have held nine of their 15 opponents below 20 points in the first, and have only allowed two teams to score more than 25 points in the first quarter. The Hawks are sixth in the league in points per game (97.9) and sixth in the league in points allowed per game (90.8).
Tipoff tonight is slated for 7:00 pm at the Wells Fargo Center. There are still great seats available for tonight’s Eastern Conference tilt. The game can be seen on Comcast Sportsnet and heard on the radio on 94.1 WIP.
Follow Steve on Twitter @SDolan3
Follow Whiz Wit on Twitter @WhizWitSports