The 36-26 Brooklyn Nets fly to Atlanta to take on the 34-27 Atlanta Hawks, after beating the Washington Wizards in record-setting fashion, getting 42 points, a franchise-record 11 three-pointers, and an NBA-record nine three-pointers in a half from point guard Deron Williams. The Nets and Hawks have split their two games this season and tonight’s rubber match is the last matchup between these two teams in this regular season — though it’s very possible that these two teams, currently seeded at fourth and sixth, respectively, will meet in the playoffs.
On hand to answer some questions tonight is Bo Churney of ESPN TrueHoop Affiliate Atlanta Hawks blog HawksHoop. I’ve asked Bo three questions about the Hawks that’ll, hopefully, help give us an idea of how Atlanta’s doing these days, and Bo offers a prediction on tonight’s contest.
As always, vote above in tonight’s iteration of The BK Game Streak for a chance to win one of three Amazon Gift Cards. COOL THINGS.
Devin: Obviously, these two teams are intertwined because of the Joe Johnson trade, but the Hawks have hardly skipped a beat without him. Meanwhile, Joe has struggled to play at 100%, outside of some late-game heroics. How has their offense changed this year from past seasons, and do you think the Hawks are better off?
Bo Churney: While the Hawks offense may be more fun to watch now, it’s actually less efficient (in terms of offensive-rating) than it was under the past several years of the Joe Johnson era. Of course, they are passing the ball more and shooting the three better, but they look lost sometimes without that guy that would carry a large part of the offensive burden; you see a lot of guys standing around at times, not knowing what to do. A large part of this has to do with Lou Williams being injured, but even then, the offense was working with about the same efficiency as it was when Joe was here.
Devin: Also obviously, the Hawks were dangling Josh Smith at the trade deadline, and a few teams (including the Nets) were connected. Was the trade talk an on-court distraction, and has anything changed in Smith’s game since the deadline passed?
Churney: Josh Smith had been on the trading block for the past four seasons, so this was nothing new to him. During the month of February, he was dominant, averaging almost 19-10-5 on over 50% shooting, so I don’t think he was that distracted. Ever since the deadline, he’s been his normal self: jumper-happy, enigmatic, and inconsistent as hell.
Devin: Okay, now actually about tonight. The last time the Nets won a game in Atlanta, Yi Jianlian and Bobby Simmons were starters. What are some things you anticipate tonight, and are you confident in a victory?
Churney: Whenever the Hawks lose a close one to the Celtics, as they did last night, it always seems to carry over for the next couple of games. Despite Horford, Smith, and Teague all having pretty good runs lately, the Hawks have gotten almost nothing in terms of consistent bench production. Once again, injuries have been playing a role in that, but it’s going to be hard for a team to win when they have bench guys taking five, six, seven shots and only ending up with three points. I think Joe gets revenge in his old town tonight, and that Brooklyn wins 97-91.