I’ve seen this dance before.
The Hawks opened up the game with a hot start that highlighted the stylistic differences between these two teams: off-ball movement and spacing by Atlanta was feebly countered by Brooklyn’s shot creators, who looked to create mismatches and find open teammates off double-teams. The Nets came back in a series of runs against Atlanta’s second unit, with one bench player (Jarrett Jack in Games 1 and 2, Alan Anderson Wednesday night) providing a surprise spark.
The Nets then got it close enough in the fourth quarter to ensure that you’d be watching through the final buzzer. Maybe Joe Johnson hit two big three-pointers after airballing a wide-open one. Maybe Jarrett Jack, perhaps the worst above-the-corners three-point shooter in the league, hits two from the left wing in a fourth-quarter run in which he scored 12 consecutive Nets points.
But in Atlanta, against the 60-win, equal-opportunity Atlanta Hawks, one or two mistakes don the stretch — whether it be a poor pass into the beak of the Hawks defense or an open lane for Jeff Teague to swoop down for a layup — proved too costly to overcome. This was C+ game when they needed an A to pull it off.
We put up the odds earlier: the Nets face a 91.9 percent chance of elimination, given the NBA’s history of best-of-seven series. They’re long odds, which to some degree, they’ve faced all along.
But I’m done counting them out. Because, I mean: do you think this series is over?
The stats: 15 PTS, 4-13 FG, 7-7 FT, 3 REB, 2 AST, 3 BLK
A surprisingly quiet game from Lopez — he had a few nice blocks, deterred some shots at the rim, and the short floater is as unstoppable as ever, but have to imagine given his increasing production in this series that the Nets could’ve pulled this out had Lopez put up another 26-10 game.