Game 24 Preview vs. Atlanta Hawks

UPDATE: Dooling is out.  Also, Michael Kay is doing the game today…what?

Before we start to talk about tonight’s game, there was an interesting article today from Al Iannazzone today.  In it, Rod Thorn gets in on the act talking about the Nets’ unity:

Thorn told his players to stop airing their frustrations publicly and focus on playing as a team.

“If you have an issue with a player, as a player you go talk to the [other] player,” Thorn said Saturday. “You need to do this, and you need to do that rather than air it publicly. You’d rather have it that way. And it’s irrelevant whether it’s true or not. If you have an issue with a guy, then go talk to him and do it internally.”

When asked if this was relayed to the team, Thorn replied, “Let’s just say yes, that has been addressed.”

I am going to talk about this at length tomorrow, but just know that if these guys aren’t talking about it, it doesn’t mean the “division” problem is solved.  It is just because Rod Thorn told them to stop talking to the media about it.  It is going to be there until one person steps up and gets these guys to work together, whether it be Kiki, Devin, or Brook someone has to do it.  This didn’t start when Frank was fired either, it was there, but there were so many guys out that everyone who was active was getting minutes.  Once minutes started declining for some people, the problems became more apparent.

As for tonight, CDR is out with a strained knee, and Tony Battie is out too with a pulled groin.  Devin Harris is playing with a sprained pinkie as is Keyon Dooling, Bobby Simmons and Eduardo Najera.  Going to be interesting to see how the whole Harris/Dooling/Alston lineup shakes things up.  Anyway, onto the matchups!

Devin Harris vs. Mike Bibby

Mike Bibby is getting up there with age, and it is starting to become apparent, on the defensive end at least.  Harris should be able to get by him and into the lane to create havoc.  Bibby is only averaging 9.7 points and 4.0 assists.  He is a solid three point shooter too, leading the team in 3 point percentage.

Advantage:  Devin Harris

Courtney Lee vs. Joe Johnson

Courtney Lee is going to be put to the test here on the defensive end.  Joe Johnson is a great shooter, but he has enough handle where he can get into the lane if you close too hard.  Courtney has a reputation of being a solid defender, he is going to need to do a good job against Johnson today if the Nets want a chance to win.

Advantage:  Joe Johnson

Trenton Hassell vs. Marvin Williams

This is probably the worst team CDR can be out against.  The Hawks feature a ton of tall/slender/athletic guys, and the Nets now have to counter with guys like Trenton Hassell and Bobby Simmons.  I know I said to expect Terrence to only get 15-20 minutes a game for a while, but he may have to play more tonight out of necessity.  He is the only SF on our roster that can hang with guys like Marvin Williams and Josh Smith.

Advantage:  Marvin Williams

Josh Boone vs. Josh Smith

This could be one of the worst match-ups in the history of the NBA.  I don’t even think I am exaggerating…too much…Boone is a bigger guy who is more comfortable banging inside.  Josh Smith is a freak of nature who attacks the boards and using his athleticism to disrupt everything.  If this was last-year, you could force Smith outside and let him shoot himself out of games, but this year, he has decided to do only the things he does well…damn…

Advantage:  Josh Smith

Brook Lopez vs. Al Horford

This is going to be a fun match-up to watch all night.  Not only is it a match-up of two of the best young centers in the NBA, but this could be a battle to see who becomes the third (or second, depending who gets voted the starter) center to represent the Eastern Conference in the All-Star game.  Look for Brook to have the slight edge today.  Horford is a big-boy, but he isn’t Roy Hibbert big, and those are the guys who has been limited Brook.  Horford is more like a Joakim Noah type, and you saw the type of game he had against him.  Hopefully he can get position, and the Nets can give him the ball.

Advantage:  Brook Lopez