The Hawks came into the Wells Fargo Center with the best record in the NBA, the last thing the Sixers needed having lost nine of their last ten.The Hawks saw this as an opportunity to rest three starters (Kyle Korver, Paul Millsap, DeMarre Carroll) and have them at 100% for the more important games or tougher opponents. But, if the history books have taught us anything it’s that sometimes taking your eye off the ball has huge consequences. That was the case last night as Philadelphia shook the very grounds of the Wells Fargo Center with a 92-84 win over Atlanta.
The Hawks built a 16-point lead in the second quarter as expected. There were no shocks, no real sense of the Sixers coming back into this. But slow and steady wins the race. Brown’s team chipped away slowly but surely at that lead and went into the locker room at halftime down just 53-47.
At the end of the game, the Sixers recorded a whopping 55 rebounds in comparison to Atlanta’s 42. It’s statistics like that that can make or break a game.
Games like this also have a tendency to switch the spotlight to a new talent that has broken out and become a crucial part of the team. Nerlens Noel was the focal point as he finished the game with 17 rebounds to go with 11 points and five steals. The last rookie to have those statistics in a single game was Shaquille O’Neal. Quite coincidental bearing in mind that Shaq’s birthday was just days prior to the game. Noel also provided one of the game’s biggest plays, and this time it wasn’t a swatt! He powered his way down the lane, hitting a basket with 3:10 left to give the Sixers a four-point lead at 87-83. A lead which would not change hands for the remainder of the game.
After one of the biggest upsets of the season, The Sixers are now 14-49, while Atlanta fall to 49-13. If the Sixers can overcome such a tenacious opponent, can they defeat some of the gladiators remaining on their schedule? If we’ve learnt one thing from this, it’s never overlook Philadelphia..and never underestimate Nerlens Noel.