When: 7:30 p.m. EST
Where: Phillips Arena
Watch: YES Network
The Brooklyn Nets need a win. After two competitive games against some of the better teams in the Eastern Conference, the complete opposite happened as the Nets lost by 34 points to a Detroit Pistons team in the midst of a five-game losing streak, at home. It was the worst outing the Nets have put up all season, but they still have a chance to redeem themselves against an Atlanta Hawks team that currently has the worst record in the NBA.
This Friday night matchup will be the team’s fourth and final against an Atlanta team that is struggling to get wins. After an offseason that saw the last starter of the 60-win Hawks team from a few years back leave and head to Denver, it’s pretty safe to say that Atlanta is officially in rebuild mode. Mike Budenholzer has done all he can to make this team competitive, but the players are too young and inexperienced to be a legitimate playoff threat.
The Nets are a team that rarely goes down without a fight, as Wednesday night was the outlier, not the norm. That being said, this Atlanta team is not one to underestimate because of its record. This is the Nets’ fourth matchup against the Hawks, so familiarity is definitely a factor, but the Hawks have a great coach in Budenholzer who can pull the right strings to sneak past the Nets.
Three things to watch for
Allen Crabbe has struggled to find consistency throughout the season, but recent performances have shown encouraging signs of what he can bring. He is coming off another 20-point performance, which is the first time in his career where he scored 20+ in consecutive games. He’s starting to get comfortable in his new role in Brooklyn, as he is learning to use his three-point shot to his advantage, getting good looks and getting defenders off their feet with a great pump-fake and drive. We’ll see if he can continue this trend and bolster the starting lineup.
Taurean Prince won’t get the love he deserves because of the current state of the Atlanta Hawks, but he’s blossoming into a productive player. He’s averaging 13 points and around seven rebounds per game and plays solid defense.
If the Hawks are going to beat the Nets, Prince will be a focal point.
Ersan Ilyasova hasn’t accomplished much in his NBA career other than a decent contract with the Bucks a few years back, but something that will be with him is his Nets-killer persona. Ilyasova holds the record for most rebounds against the Nets in a game, so watch out for him as he might strike again tonight.