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Reply To: NBA • Thursday Service Plays • 1/7/16

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Preview: Atlanta At Philadelphia

When: 7:00 PM ET, Thursday, January 7, 2016
Where: Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

The Philadelphia 76ers have another chance to earn their first back-to-back wins of the season when they host the slumping Atlanta Hawks on Thursday. The 76ers are winners of three of their last six contests and opened the six-game homestand with a 109-99 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Monday.

Philadelphia’s recent run of competent play coincides directly with the arrival of point guard Ish Smith, who provided the spark with 21 points and 11 assists in Monday’s win. “I think we have such a young team that his personality pairs up with their youthful spirit a lot,” 76ers coach Brett Brown told reporters of Smith. “He can get those guys wound up, and they follow his charisma.” The Hawks seemed to have plenty of their own charisma during a six-game winning streak that began with a 127-106 win over Philadelphia on Dec. 16, but surrounded the new year with three losses in the last four games. Atlanta surrendered an average of 111 points in the last three games and are coming off back-to-back losses to the New York Knicks.

TV: 7 p.m. ET, FSN Southeast (Atlanta), CSN Philadelphia

ABOUT THE HAWKS (21-15): Atlanta has enjoyed a pair of winning streaks of six games or longer already this season but also dealt with several losing stretches. “We’re doing some good things out there, but we keep having mental lapses as a group, forgetting assignments, little things,” center Al Horford told reporters. “You have to be able to do those things consistently.” The Hawks allowed the Knicks to shoot a combined 48.8 percent from the field in the last two games.

ABOUT THE 76ERS (4-33): Smith, who was allowed to walk away by Philadelphia before being brought back late last month in a trade with New Orleans, is averaging 14.7 points and 8.2 assists in six games since joining the team. Smith’s return is helping the young team create better scoring chances and easing the burden on Brown. “It allows me to coach less, which is good. I mean it,” Brown told reporters of having Smith on the floor. “There’s nothing worse than sitting on the sideline feeling like you’ve got to run the whole game, calling the play every single (time) — that’s not how I see the game.”

BUZZER BEATERS

1. The 76ers signed veteran PF Elton Brand to mentor rookie Jahlil Okafor.

2. Hawks C Tiago Splitter (leg) missed the last four games and is questionable to return on Thursday.

3. Atlanta has taken eight of the last nine in the series.

PREDICTION: Hawks 118, 76ers 106