Less than 24 hours after the Atlanta Hawks were utterly humiliated on their home floor, they're at it again. This time, they'll be in Philadelphia, trying to stave off a slide that could have Atlanta slip into the No. 6 spot in the East.
The Hawks are coming off of an embarrassing 114-81 home loss to the Eastern Conference-best Chicago Bulls. It was another night where just about everything that could possibly go wrong went wrong at the "Highlight Factory."
Atlanta didn't defend. Atlanta put up ill-advised shots. Atlanta didn't control the boards. The end result was another terrible loss on their home floor, where they have lost 15 games this season and have the three worst defeats on any team's home floor in the NBA. That's right -- I said any team. Even the lowly Sacramento Kings, even the terrible Toronto Raptors, even the woeful Washington Wizards and the Cleveland Cavaliers haven't lost at home the way they do it in the ATL.
"It's starting to get embarrassing," Josh Smith told reporters after the latest debacle. "We're too good a team to be getting blown out of our own gym."
Starting to get embarrassing, Smoove? It was at that level weeks ago.
Nevertheless, Atlanta must regroup quickly against a sixth-place Sixers team that has won 19 of its last 28 games. Philadelphia, which has ascended from ninth to sixth with their recent hot streak, has inched to within 3 1/2 games of the low-flying Hawks.
Atlanta must make the personal sacrifices necessary to defeat a rested 76ers team that is coming off of a rare 110-101 loss to the Portland Trail Blazers on Saturday. The Sixers, who finished their road trip at 2-3, played that one without Andre Iguodala. He missed the game with a right knee injury and could miss this one as well.
The Hawks may be forced to play this one without Horford, who was lifted in the third quarter against the Bulls with a hamstring strain, although coach Larry Drew fully expects his All-Star center to answer the bell in Pennsylvania.
The last time these two teams played, the Sixers destroyed the Hawks, 117-83, on Atlanta's home floor on Feb. 8. The Hawks can ill afford a repeat of that debacle if they want to extend their lead over Philadelphia in the East, even though they clinch a playoff spot with a win.