Hopeless Nets look to stave off Hawks at home
With each passing game, it becomes clearer and clearer that the Brooklyn Nets, as currently composed, are not long for this world. With teams now able to sign players to 10-day contracts, it appears as if the Nets will be giving plenty of waiver-wire players the opportunity to prove themselves in this lost season. General manager Sean Marks has already made his first short term signing, inking Quincy Acy to a deal at the expense of Anthony Bennett. The 2013 no. 1 overall pick was released by his fourth NBA team in as many years, and Brooklyn will give a flier to the hard-working Acy, who was previously playing for the Texas Legends in the D-League.
Outside of Acy’s arrival, the Nets will look to avoid losing their seventh-straight game as they host the Atlanta Hawks, the franchise, of course, that head coach Kenny Atkinson was an assistant for over the previous four seasons. With a loss, Brooklyn would have the dubious distinction of being one of two teams, along with the 76ers, with two losing streaks of 7 or more games this season. However, no other team can stake a claim to losing twice to Philadelphia this season — so, yes, its already been a long season.
Brooklyn had the chance to gain ground in the standings when they hosted Brett Brown’s squad this past Sunday. The Nets controlled the action early during the Sunday matinee, holding an 11-point advantage at the half. Unfortunately, Philadelphia mounted a massive second half comeback, powered by a 32-16 third quarter, to ultimately down the Nets by 10. Brook Lopez was once again brilliant, scoring 26 points and draining 3-7 from beyond the arc, but he received little help from his fellow starters. Justin Hamilton’s 16 points and 5 boards off of the bench were nice, but this team is no longer getting the contributions it got earlier this season from Bojan Bogdanovic (5-14) and Sean Kilpatrick, who has been relegated to the bench in favor of Joe Harris. Harris went 0-4 in 16 minutes. Yikes.
With Atlanta, they’ll be facing off against a much stronger team, but not one without their own struggles. Looking for their own identity, the Hawks made headlines this past week when they sent Kyle Korver to the Cleveland Cavaliers in exchange for a 2019 draft pick, Mike Dunleavy Jr., and the contract of retired point guard Mo Williams. News then leaked out that they were looking to deal forward Paul Millsap too, but they quickly pulled him off the trade block a few days later. The Hawks enter Tuesday’s contest as the 4th seed in the Eastern Conference, so the decision to keep Millsap means that the team is serious about winning still, at least for another month or so.
Atlanta looks to gain momentum by beating the lowly Nets while Brooklyn hopes to shock one of the conference’s top teams. Here’s 3 things to look out for in Nets-Hawks:
1. Goodbye Bennett, hello Acy
As previously mentioned, the Nets cut ties with former top pick Anthony Bennett to open up a roster spot for Quincy Acy. Acy is a 4-year veteran who has had stints with the Sacramento Kings (twice), the New York Knicks, and, most recently, the Dallas Mavericks. Bennett was having a decent year (relative to his career) with a career-high PER of 14.9 and his averages were up across the board. He could be snatched up by the Long Island Nets, just as Yogi Ferrell was when he was cut by Brooklyn, but for now, his future is unclear.
Acy is a tough player that’s known for his defense, so it’s possible he could slot in next to Justin Hamilton, Sean Kilpatrick, or Bojan Bogdanovic, none of whom are known for their defensive prowesses. Should things get ugly tonight, we’ll likely see Acy for the first time in black and white.
2. Can someone help Brook Lopez?
Brook Lopez continues to play at a high level even as the losses mount. Of course, he’s been professional all season as usual, never giving up on the team, despite how easy sulking could be. Lopez is scoring 20 points per game, but no other Net has eclipsed a 15-point standard yet.. The next highest scorers have been Bogdanovic and Kilpatrick, but both guards have been wildly inconsistent of late. Obviously, the Nets thought they would sport a lethal pick and roll with Jeremy Lin and Lopez, but they’ve been dire at times on offense outside of the looming center.
In all likelihood, the Nets will continue to occupy the lowest rung on the power rankings until the former returns from his second hamstring injury this season.
3. Dwight Howard: the Brooklyn star that never was
Back in 2012, it was believed that the Nets would trade Lopez and a bevy of assets to acquire the then All-NBA center Dwight Howard. Combined with Deron Williams, the duo were supposed to bring the Nets the franchise their first-ever NBA title, but the Magic-man had a sudden pivot and opted into his final season with Orlando before eventually moving onto the Los Angeles Lakers. Now playing for his fourth team, Howard is no longer the star attraction he once was. After turbulent tenures in Los Angeles and Houston, Howard is now the marquee star of his hometown team. As Superman soars through the Barclays Center this Tuesday, fans can reflect on the super team that never was in Brooklyn.
It’ll be a good distraction from the actions of the not-so-super-team they have now.