• The momentum of the game began shifting in the third quarter, when Philadelphia adjusted the orientation of its defense to hone in on Al Horford, Josh Smith, and Atlanta’s other various bigs in the post. No Hawks player in particular was torching the Sixers from the block, but Doug Collins wisely identified the importance of Atlanta’s post play within the context of their offense. Horford and Smith have particularly great chemistry from that area, and often look to find each other on quick passes out of the block. Smith, in particular, is one of the best kick-out playmakers in the league, as his sometimes unruly game is quieted once he has a moment to stop and read the court at a standstill. Even Ivan Johnson and Zaza Pachulia were able to create some advantages against their undersized opponents, up until the Sixers emphasized post defense early in possessions (by denying prime position) and subsequently attacked the Hawks with a series of hard-to-predict double teams bolstered by active play in the passing lanes. Atlanta frankly wasn’t ready for wave after wave of pressure, and though the Hawks were able to keep up their scoring pace for a few minutes in the second half, the squeezing of their post play soon yielded a start-and-stop Sixer run that decided the game.
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