Root, root, root, for the Sixers!

Barring some absurd collapse by the Hawks, over the remaining 7 games, we’re a lock for the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference.  So it’s clearly time to consider what the first round of said playoffs may realistically look like.

Tonight the Philadelphia 76ers assumed a half-game lead for the fifth seed in the Eastern Conference, slipping past the Miami Heat, who have held that slot for quite some time.  Perusing the ongoing banter, on Big Ray’s most recent post, it seems quite a few folks would prefer to face the Heat, rather than the Sixers, in the first round.

I’m afraid I have to disagree.  I’ll be rooting for the Sixers to hold onto the 5th seed and emerge as our first-round opponent, regardless of how we’ve faired against them this season.  I know, I know, we’re 2-1 against the Heat this year, while going 1-2 against Philly.

But let me give you four reasons why I don’t want to see the Heat in the first-round (in ascending order of importance):

1) Michael Beasley: yup, I know he’s a rookie and I know he’s not even starting.  And I know that the Heat have purposefully kept a leash on him, for the most part, through the regular season.  But the playoffs are about bringing a twist to the show, unless you’re one of the legitimate contenders for the title.  So when I watched Beasley shred the Hawks defense for 23 points, in 25 minutes, in a road loss a month ago, WHILE Marvin was on the floor and playing 40 minutes, I took notice.  With no Marvin, Beasley is a match-up nightmare for the home team.  And unleashing Beasley is the most likely “twist” the Heat can bring to the dance.  It’s not like their coaching staff didn’t tape his performance that night (I think 20 of his points came in the second-half).  Beasley is like that old TacoBell commercial, “Good to go”.

2) Jermaine O’Neal:  I know he’s a shadow of his old self, and a downright dog at over $20 million a year.  But he’s only a couple of years removed from being one of the best big men in the league, and if it really is just a matter of effort, then he may embrace the opportunity to “remind” the league that he’s still legitimate (especially as a precursor to next season’s “contract year” push).  Motivated and healthy, he’s a major headache for Horford.  Unlike the Sixers, with Dalembert in the post, he’s capable of providing the Heat with monster production on both ends of the floor.  Just sayin’….

3)D Wade:  simply put he’s one of the three best players in the NBA, along with LeBron and Kobe.  He’s capable of single-handedly putting his supporting cast on his broad shoulders and torching the Hawks with an epic individual performance.  We do not have a single backcourt match-up, for him, that emboldens a modicum of confidenct in our ability to slow him down.  Not Johnson, not Flip, not the under-utilized Acie Law, and not Mike Bibby (Stop That! I can here you snickering from my laptop, and I’ve got the dang thing on mute).  There is no one on the Philadelphia roster who poses even a fraction of the potential to be a one-man wrecking crew, like Wade.  Throw all the other numbers and individual match-ups out the damn window, we DO NOT want to be the first-round favorite against a D. Wade team.

4) Could be 3B, but it’s not.  Here’s what Bill Simmons (yes, I have no hesitation in acknowledging that Simmons is my hero) has to say about the way the NBA’s officials deal with the three best players in the league, Wade, Kobe and Lebron:

“I also wrote, “seeing an individual triumph over a team YET AGAIN would erase every positive outcome from the 2005-06 season. Basically, the team with LeBron or Wade will win the next 10-12 titles, and it will come down to which guy made more 20-footers with two guys on him and which guy got the most cheap calls from the most spineless referees. That’s not basketball, it’s a star system.”

Flash-forward to 2009: With the post-Donaghy hangover gone, we’re back to that star system again. Kobe, LeBron and Wade are officiated differently than everyone else. And you know what else? They know it. Watch LeBron at the end of games now — he barrels toward the basket, bounces off guys and knows he’ll get a call. Here’s the shame of it: LeBron, Wade and Kobe are playing at the highest level of any three stars since Jordan, Barkley and Hakeem in 1993. They would be great with or without the help. I don’t blame them — they play hard every night and do whatever it takes to win. But if you don’t think we’re headed for a Kobe-LeBron Finals, you’re insane.”

In short, I feel comfortable that, with home court advantage, for 4 of the possible 7 games, we can handle the Sixers, who continue to exhibit the fatal flaw of a virtually non-existent 3-point shooting threat, which is especially helpful in a potential matchup with the Hawks.  But I don’t want any  part of Dwayne Wade.  And I definitely don’t want to give the NBA, and it’s seemingly incompetent (or simply corrupt) officials, the opportunity to “hand” Wade a first-round upset of the Hawks, to drive television ratings for a compelling second-round matchup with the Cavs (what would be more optimal for the NBA’s marketing goals than a second-round Wade-Lebron matchup, followed by either the Cavs against the Celtics, or the Dwight Howard-led Magic, followed by the ultimate Finals matchup, that Simmons points towards, of Kobe vs. Lebron?).

Give me a conspiracy-free first-round matchup against the Sixers.  No league marketing agenda to concern ourselves with.  And an opportunity to exit the second round with a little noise, against the Cavs, like we gave the Celtics in last years’ first-round.

That’s what I’m talkin’ about……..

84 comments Add your comment

bagong_sali

April 3rd, 2009
5:24 am

Except for the 4th reason (I don’t subscribe to conspiracy theories), I agree with this article. I rather see the Hawks face the 76ers than the heat. Though the record this season suggest otherwise, I believe this hawks team match up well with the 76ers. Also, hawks have homecourt advantage, I don’t believe the 76ers can win a game in ATL so the Hawks is sure to win the series. With Wade and the Heat, it would not surprise me that they can win 1 or 2 games in ATL

doc

April 3rd, 2009
8:34 am

with the team as it is now without acie and marvin i dont like either match up. i can hear woody now, “well injuries just worked against us down the stretch and in the playoffs”. i think i deserve the chance to come back and see what we can do if healthy. seemingly with the idea that there is no chance of this team winning it all or going beyond a struggle to get out of the first round and woody still being here, i guess it is best for some to consider who do i want to play the hawks that wold expose their flaws the best to get someone to thinking, “hmmm, there is more work to be done to get beyond the wanna be elite in the nba”. i guess that is where sund and the basg come in.

nice arguments ando, some could just as likely point out how the hawks were just thrashed in philly and ya boy iggie may be under rated and as good if not better than jj in most categories and their bigs more big and their point more more point. bench better and more ready to play, bad match up, too. just wont say it in as many words if you catch my drift.

so who will make us look the emperor without clothes is the refrain from some is my guess.

O'brien

April 3rd, 2009
9:00 am

Good blog Ray. But I’m still torn between the 2.

Some reasons not to face the Sixers.
1) Andre Miller (doesnt shoot the 3 like Chalmers), but posts up, and is a good passer, and he will get everyone involved

2) Philly can win at Phillips arena. They won a game there, and was up big in the other game before the Hawks made a run

3) The Hawks may not win a game in Philly (I think they can win a game in Miami)

3) Better supporting cast than Miami. Speights had a good game against us. They have Reggie Evans/Theo Ratliffe, and Louis Williams is Philly’s version of Flip. Even if Wade averages 40 points a game against us, we should be able to limit his supporting cast.

(4) Philly is more experienced, having been to the playoffs last year (while Miami would need contributions from 2 rookies). And as Bibby/JJ said last year, the playoffs are a different animal

SpaniardHawk

April 3rd, 2009
9:06 am

Childrees team yesterday arrived to the European final four. He played in my country(Spain) against Real Madrid. He put 7 points and 7 rebounds for his team in 30 minutes. Not a very good game by him. There is a very interesting young point guard in Real Madrid. His name is Sergio Llull and maybe is a good choice for the second round pick. At the moment he is in the 59th position of the NBADraft.net Mock draft. Sorry for my poor English.

O'brien

April 3rd, 2009
9:27 am

Good Blog Ando

dap01

April 3rd, 2009
9:32 am

Andro: I am looking forward to what you think should occur during the offseason for the Hawks. I am also looking forward to hearing what you think will actually happen.

The Truth

April 3rd, 2009
9:38 am

O’brien

I’ll co-sign that

doc

April 3rd, 2009
9:58 am

spaniard hawk. thanks for the update and no apologies necessary, your english is just fine and much better than my spanish.

o’brien my thoughts exactly. i think philly can do us in 6 even if we have the home court advantage. remember they are as hungry if not more so to prove last year was no fluke. they are a huge mis-match for our 7 man roster.

doc

April 3rd, 2009
10:07 am

all things said the hawks can still be in a position to win against either opponent if they bring their a game and energy. they have to bring their best though. three weeks ago they seemed a shoe in to the second round. not there anymore.

calico

April 3rd, 2009
10:17 am

I would rather see the hawks play miami the heat just dont matchup well against us but philly on the other hand can beat us if we play philly i expect it to go 7 games

Melvin

April 3rd, 2009
10:33 am

If the Hawks play with the same level on intensity they had during last year home playoffs games (or earlier this season), than it won’t matter if it’s Philly or Miami. They will beat them both… No lengthy or in dept analysis needed for me to believe that…

Melvin

April 3rd, 2009
10:37 am

Oh yeah, I would rather us play Miami. So we could get some national attention with D.Wade in the house….

Doesn’t anyone know when the playoffs start. I noticed our last game is on 4/15 (Wednesday). Does the playoffs start that same weekend?

Astro Joe

April 3rd, 2009
11:32 am

I still vote for Miami. The one reason I would choose Philly is that in a close game (tied or opposing team down by 1), there’s no one I fear on Philly remotely as much as I’d fear Wade.

Wade will get his 15 trips to the free throw line but I don’t have the same respect for his supporting cast as Ando. In fact (from the grass is greener department), I just read where the Miami coaching staff is trying to figure out why Jermaine isn’t rebounding. Something about him averaging around 5 boards/game since the trade.

Like doc said, without Marvin (and to a lesser degree Acie), Hawks may be in trouble in the first round regardless of their opponent.

Mike B.

April 3rd, 2009
11:35 am

Really don’t trust playing against D-Wade in a 7 game series even though he is working with 2 rookies. At the same time, if any team in the eastern playoffs were as “atheletic” as the hawks it would be Philly. Neither of these 2 matchups are desireable, but it’s the playoffs: at this point all games should be good especially in a 4 – 5 matchup (which should be the best matchup of the round). I just hope the Hawks take the mentality as if they are the underdog and fight for everything in every game, including on the road. LET’s go Hawks.

JerryWest

April 3rd, 2009
11:42 am

Blog of the year.

When Jordan was young, the Bulls barely made it to the playoff and faced a formidable Cavs team that had all star Mark Price, high flying young Ron Harper, all star Larry Nance, all star Brad Dougharty and 6th man supreme Hot Rod Williams. That team was coached by an experienced coach named Larry Wilkins. This Cavs team was ready for many championship runs.

Guess what, Michael Jordan took them out. Wade’s team is better than that immature Bulls team, and that Cavs team would sweep the current Hawks team. Ask Mark Price.

MannyT

April 3rd, 2009
12:50 pm

I do like the point/counter point flow to the last two blogs as long as I don’t see any of that Jane you ignorant slut talk from you two ;-)

Yes, Wade will get more calls than anyone else. There will also be a contingent of Wade fans that show up to cheer him on. However, I believe we have a better matchup with Miami than Philly. I don’t see J. O’Neal in the time machine before the playoffs. Beasley has skills, but he lacks the very thing that makes the Hawks interesting…consistency.

In Philly, their lopsided offense still brings more challenges to the table. Miller is older than Bibby, but he brings more versatility in his game than the young PGs in Miami. I recall all the Thad Young praise earlier this year. It might have been Ando saying how much he preferred Thad to Marvin. How much you you prefer Thad to Mo?

I think the Sixers are hungrier than the Heat. D. Wade has proven a lot simply by proving that he could drag that squad and its rookie coach to the playoffs. Coach in Philly is scapping for a job. He may want to lose that interim tag. Like us, the Sixers were there last year and have a bit more to prove.

Besides, if the AJC found a way to get you two to a road game, would you prefer to scrap it up with the Philly fans or outcheer the South Beach posers?

BWAF

.EternalOptimist

April 3rd, 2009
1:32 pm

Unfortunately folks though we match up well with Miami, we have no one with the killer instinct on our team that I would trust to put us over the hump. I love these Hawks but they drive me insane with their inconsistencies. Our point plays the role of the shooting guard, our shooting guard plays the roll of the point and both are known to disappear in the clutch (this year). The sixers length and speed will give us all kinds of problems. I really don’t know. I’m hoping for the best but my experience with the Hawks this year does not give me much confidence nowadays. The Hawks play best when their pushing the rock and getting easy baskets early. That gives them confidence and usually get us free throw opportunities early that carry us throughout the second half. Hopefully we’ll figure it out, but realistically do we really think we’re gonna all of a sudden get it?

Melvin

April 3rd, 2009
3:04 pm

If we Hawks fans are going to split hairs over who we should play between Miami/Philly when our team is in the 4th seed because of fear of matchups. Then why even go to the playoffs. I mean, do we prefer to play the Magic, Cavs or Boston. I’m not scared of Philly or Miami. Tell either one to comeon down to Philips to get STUMP… We came to far to be scared now…

Astro Joe

April 3rd, 2009
3:44 pm

Manny, funny that you would mention tha specific line, because I was thinking baout using it on someone. But I didn’t know who would recall that line from SNL and who would be trying to track me down to introduce me to their Louisville Slugger.

Now that I know that you recall that line, I will feel safe to use it with you (the next time you have the audacity to disagree with me). Audacity, one of my father’s favorite words… long before our current POTUS was old enough to spell it.

Sautee

April 3rd, 2009
4:21 pm

Manny and AJ,

LOL!

Yeah, when Ando first told me that they had the Hack gig, it’s one of the first things I said to him. I wanted him to use it on Ray. Like you Joe, he wasn’t sure how many would catch it, but I told him it would be well worth it for those who DID.

Thank you Dan Akroyd.

And I’ll throw my weight in with doc. Whichever team would expose our weaknesses the most might be best, since we’re not gonna compete for the Championship anyway. Let’s make Sund take a REAL good look at what’s missing.

SWAT Native

April 3rd, 2009
5:00 pm

SpaniardHawk, its nice to see that the Hawks have fans in Europe. Thanks for the update on Childress.

Like the scout told Sekou on his blog, you make a mistake when you pay much attention to the teams behind you and worry about potential matchups. I still go back to what Hubie Brown says: the team that you try to match up up with in the playoffs always seems to beat you.

Zack Safern

April 3rd, 2009
7:38 pm

Enter your comments here

Zack Safern

April 3rd, 2009
7:42 pm

this might be the dumbest piece of writing i have ever read, it just goes to show how pathetic Atlanta sports and sports writers really are. When the Sixers win that 5th spot they are going to beat the hawks in 5 or 6 games. They stand a much better chance against the heat who are a terrible road team and the hawks can only play at home as well, they are also a joke on the road. The sixers dominance over the Hawks dates all the way back to last year not just this year, the sixers are much more capable of taking a game from the Hawks in Atlanta versus the Heat even with D-Wade the heat just don’t have a front court, and the fact that he mentioned that Beasley is a threat still has me laughing, wow.

niremetal

April 3rd, 2009
8:19 pm

Three straight bad shots by Josh. Not a good sign…

niremetal

April 3rd, 2009
8:20 pm

Gotta love seeing criticism from someone who isn’t even smart enough to clear “Enter your comments here” before hitting submit.

Sam from da Swats

April 3rd, 2009
8:34 pm

Zack, I hope the Sixers win, that way we won’t be a part of the NBA giving Dwayne Wade thousands of calls a game. You’re crazy if you think the sixers will beat us in 5 or 6 games..

.EternalOptimist

April 3rd, 2009
9:37 pm

Has anyone noticed our penchant for disappearing at the end of each quarter. That’s strategy folks, or rather lack there of. We get close, but at the 2 min. mark we get exposed. Just as I say that Flip fouls Rondo on a half court three. This happens at the close of each quarter and it’s something the hawks have done all year. We’re losing to all the top tier teams without their best players. The one win against the Lakers gave us a false sense of security. The Lakers play finesse ball mainly and I guess we “out finessed them”.

.EternalOptimist

April 3rd, 2009
9:43 pm

No Garnett, no Rondo and the Celtics are running us off the floor. Now, how can I be optimistic about this. Oh yeah, before anyone reminds me I know “we still have 4th place”.

.EternalOptimist

April 3rd, 2009
9:48 pm

Newsbreak! Magic beating Cleveland by fourty. 87-47 with three min. to go in the third.

O'brien

April 3rd, 2009
9:55 pm

I always look forward to Woody’s comments after the game. He always seems to state the obvious.

O'brien

April 3rd, 2009
9:59 pm

From Sekou’s article. “Salim Stoudemire signed a multiyear contract with Milwaukee”

Ariose, what’s good?

Big Ray

April 3rd, 2009
10:19 pm

Manny,

You caught that, huh? We were trying to play good cop, bad cop….but it’s hard to do that with only one cop…And while I am an adequate imitator (ask Sautee about my ‘Nique impression on the phone), and have been known to have some acting skills, multiple personality is something I don’t do. Speaking of which, where’s that SamRod character? ;)

Dap01,

One thing at a time bro’, one thing at a time. You’re going to get a good one or two posts on that as well. Ando and I will share some ideas on the subject of the offseason, but I’m sure we’ll also have some different ones. It’s coming, I promise you, but not yet. Besides, any final assessment/opinion should come AFTER the playoffs.

Sautee

April 3rd, 2009
10:25 pm

LOL, yeah Ray had me “rollin” with that ‘Nique impression. Spot on and hilarious.

Big Ray

April 3rd, 2009
10:40 pm

Ugly game tonight. I saw a lot of typical things that we do wrong, but I also saw one thing that I always see when we play Boston.

Even when they’re hurt and ailing, they are better coached, deeper, and more developed. ‘Nuff said. They’re just a better team.

Big Ray

April 3rd, 2009
10:57 pm

Some may scoff at DWades’s supporting cast, but I have to take a second look at this.

Sixers don’t have shooters. I looked at the game Miami just played, wherein they beat Charlotte. Daquean Cook. James Jones. Chris Quinn. All 3 point threats. Miami got beat like a drum on the boards against Charlotte (40-29), and the Bobcats beat them in nearly every category expect 3 point shooting and turnovers. Yet they still lost to the Heat by 7.

Add in that DWade went to the line only 11 times (it wasn’t a crazy number, with a bunch of bogus calls), and scored less than 30 points.

Beasley off the bench, 7-9 from the field. I don’t know. Maybe Ando has a point…

"Big Baby" Davis

April 3rd, 2009
10:58 pm

Coach buys me a cheeseburger for every rebound. Sorry, Hawks, but business is business.

Suckers.

dap01

April 4th, 2009
8:14 am

Thanks Big Ray. I understand.

Yoyo

April 4th, 2009
10:57 am

Sixers will beat the shit out of the hawks.

Zack Safern

April 4th, 2009
11:04 am

You Atlanta fans are all pretty comical, you have no real team to root for in your city so you guys get your hopes all high on a team that COULD POSSIBLY but UNLIKELY win 1 playoff round, and will never be much more than that ever. I am from Philly and at least I know the sixers aren’t shit, but what i do know is they match up VERY WELL against the Hawks and will and i guarantee will win that series if that is wat it comes to. Its ok though in about 12 years when Lebron and Dwight are nearing the end of the careers i am sure you guys will have a shot then. HAHA. I almost feel bad for a city thats best team right now is a one round wonder.

Zack Safern

April 4th, 2009
11:17 am

If someone can give me an example of when the hawks beat the sixers convincingly JUST ONE id love to hear it

Melvin

April 4th, 2009
11:18 am

MannyT, will I see you at the game tonite??????

Zack Safern

April 4th, 2009
11:19 am

I can give you guys about 4 times in the past 2 years that the sixers just made the hawks look silly the only win Atlanta had against us is the game in Atlanta at the beginning of the year the sixers were up about 30 and jus totally fell apart, (do to the fact elton brand wasnt out for the year yet) and let the hawks come back and win, but isnt that what atlanta is suppose 2 do win at home??

doc

April 4th, 2009
2:00 pm

zack before you make any more really stupid remarks about sportswriters … this is a blog written by a fan just like you and incorporated into the blog format on the ajc. not sure what your beef is but the real sportswriter is sekou smith and one of the better ones and admired nationally.

as far as your comments. dont disagree and many here do the same. i dont want philly and liked how they finished last year., much to be admired. btw you sound like a philly fan, so be it, your gm did you guys a disservice by not going harder for josh and spending sooo much money on elton brand. he was a true unknown coming back off a surgery that is complicated and one that certainly takes the lift out of anyones step. he is your problem now and maybe as you intimated the reason why they faltered at the start and as ray, one of our two hacks leading this format, alluded to as he said cheeks was the scape goat for the gm’s error.

zack, keep it real until you know much about who you are coming to join otherwise you sound like an idiot .. maybe you are, only time will tell.

doc

April 4th, 2009
2:33 pm

imus as a carry over, you really did go and trash nash. it is like comparing shaq who aint earning the big bucks he gets these days to say diop, gadzuric,dalembert, prizbilla, okafur or o’neal. as i said nash didnt deserve to be included in the group you put him in not to ask or even discuss whther he deserved it or not. those guys you had him in company with were and never will be in that discussion just as the list i mention of centers doing their thing will never come close to what shaq accomplished. both shaq and nash are hall of famers. the others mentioned will never be. seems like you got a beef with nash, must not come to the store much since i imagine his shoe size is more the mortal size than niques. heh heh

zach, stil dont know what your beef is with sekou here even though i mistakenly thought you were on the hack blog. other than that my points dont change much.

MannyT

April 4th, 2009
2:47 pm

Sautee, I’m throwing my weight in with Ray or Astro. Not that I have any particular argument, but compared to me, they are just better built to win the throw your weight in with things ;-)

Melvin, I will be at the game tonight. I had mixed thoughts about showing up because I love the NCAA tournament.

Ray–just go Darth Ray when you have to pull good cop, bad cop alone. There are plenty of options.

If I needed to argue with Astro Joe without him here, I could be MannyT and MannyCoti (the enforcer from the Food Mafia). If I had to take on doc without him, I could be MannyT and Manny Insurance. (How many doctors like insurance companies?) So many options to choose.

For the Philly Miami thing Ray Cheesesteak vs Ray Southbeach…no need to beat this dead horse…I don’t want the oldtimers reminiscing back to Calig…never mind.

BWAF

MannyT

April 4th, 2009
2:48 pm

Zack, your blog rant clouds facts.

Even though I’d prefer not to play Philly in the playoffs, over the past 2 season, the Hawks & Sixers have played 7 times. Atlanta has won 4. Philly is NOT that good, they just match up well against the Hawks. That matchup is mainly because the Sixers are more of a team offensively than the Heat. The Heat’s offense is similar to our offense a few years ago. DWade/Joe for lots of points and hope someone else can step up for a game.

doc

April 4th, 2009
3:00 pm

man, heh heh, i dont like this new format with multiple pages. hacks it is one of the reasons i dont make comments often nor do i want to simple bring over comments from the other blog as cut and pastes though you are both worthy to have a solid following. good job.

manny t, i only wish jj was that kind of scored that could really put this team on his shoulders both on offense and defense to win games. wade is true mvp along with labron who will get it and kobe.

karl, brown, mcmillan, pops or adelman all are truly worthy of coy with brown stationed at the pedistal despite the throw down of magic last night. heard the comments by woody already bringing up the injury factor whereas all the contemporaries mentioned except brown has had to deal with significant injuries and still get their tams to the elite category.

will the magic beat us like a drum tonight?

MannyT

April 4th, 2009
4:48 pm

doc, you are correct that JJ is not in the same level of scoring as Wade, but he did play a very similar role here before Bibby & Flip showed up. JJ had to score and all others were just a hope to shine for a game or two.

Hopefully the Magic will be overconfident after beating the Cavs like a drum last night. If we put up a good fight tonight, that will be a move in the right direction after the January beat downs.

I’ll be there to see it.

BWAF

Big Ray

April 4th, 2009
7:31 pm

Manny still gets my vote as funniest blogger. Can’t hold a candle to him…

Big Ray

April 4th, 2009
7:42 pm

From Yahoo sports:

Had the Hawks taken care of business a little better earlier in the season, these last three weeks of the season might have provided an opportunity to rest some of the rotation regulars for the playoffs.

But injuries and a tighter-than-they-want race for home court advantage won’t allow the Hawks to ease up one bit. Not with three back-to-back sets in the final weeks of the regular season, starting with Friday’s game in Boston and Saturday night’s home game against Orlando.

“We’ve been grinding all year in terms of being in some tough situations with the injuries and the schedule and our guys have responded all year,” Hawks coach Mike Woodson said. “They know what’s at stake. We have to try and finish up on a positive note. Our main goal is trying to finish strong and put ourselves in a position to lock up that fourth spot.”

With locking up that fourth spot being the sole focus, Woodson said he would not play around with his rotation, even with back-to-back sets on the docket.

Woodson scrapped the big lineup of Zaza Pachulia, Al Horford and Josh Smith that he tried in last Friday’s home loss to the Celtics, hoping to milk his regular group that included Mo Evans instead of Pachulia.

“It’s tough to play that way when you don’t really work on it,” Pachulia said. “Plus, we need energy off the bench and that’s what I’ve been able to provide all year.”

The Celtics made the Hawks pay for that decision early, scoring 10 of their first 13 points in the paint.

“Until you can secure that fourth spot you have to play the way you did to get here,” Woodson said. “I don’t think it’s wise to deviate from that.”

Now think about this. Philly is picking up steam, and now has 40 wins. Their remaining schedule isn’t exactly easy. They have 2 home games and 5 away games left, and the home games are against the Cavs and Celtics. But they ARE better on the road than we are. And they beat us on the season tie-breaker. This is nothing to play with. We need to finish strong.

Unfortunately, the article says it all: taking care of business sooner (all those winnable games we gave away) would mean more rest for starters as the last games came through. Hmmmph. So much for that idea, although the Woody factor has to be considered when it comes to resting the starters…