Um… well… second time’s the charm, maybe?
1. What’s the key to victory for the Atlanta Hawks?
- Mark Ginocchio: Continue to attack the interior with Josh Smith and Al Horford. Outside of Kris Humphries, who hasn’t looked like the defensive player he was last season, the Nets won’t be able to match up with their size and athleticism. Unless Johan Petro has been talking to Faust.
- Chris Hooker: They need to shut down the Nets’ backcourt. The only way that the Nets win tonight is if Deron Williams and MarShon Brooks have excellent performances — which means Deron hitting 50% of his shots, racking up ten-plus assists and MarShon scoring at least 25 points. Atlanta will win the frontcourt matchup (again), and if they can stop a struggling D-Will and the ever-confident Brooks, they should have no issue in another blowout, especially with the support of their home fans.
- Devin Kharpertian: Do what you did on Tuesday — spread the ball around, force the Nets to make decisions defensively (read: bad decisions), and pound inside and in transition. They won’t have as much luck from the outside, but given how poorly the Nets played them, they won’t need much.
2. What’s the key to victory for the New Jersey Nets?
- Mark Ginocchio: Make an outside shot. Please. Is it really that hard? Oh right, it is when you have no inside presence and teams can just stack the perimeter. Also, where is Deron Williams? I thought the Nets traded for a top 3 PG last year?
- Chris Hooker: The Nets are shooting abysmally so far this season. As a team, they’ve shot just 36% from the field, and have yet to shoot above 40% in any of their three games this year. This is bad. For the Nets to even have a prayer against the Hawks tonight — the same Hawks that beat them by 36 just a few nights ago — they are going to need to shoot at least 40%, which borderlines comical. It’s not that difficult of a feat or that out of reach, but this is the state of the team we are dealing with now.
The Nets need to get hot early. If I’m Avery, I’m starting Brooks at the 2 and Stevenson at the 3 (both of whom are coming off good shooting performances yesterday). Who cares if we come out a little undersized? They need buckets, early.
- Devin Kharpertian: Execute an offense. Last night’s game against Orlando reeked of the same issues the Nets had in their last game against Atlanta — invisible offensive schemes and poor shots. On top of that, the few shots the Nets got that were good looks often missed their mark. Run scoring plays. And then score. Seems obvious, and yet wildly difficult.
3. Final prediction: victory goes to…
- Mark Ginocchio: The Hawks. It won’t be quite the killing it was Tuesday, but the Nets have a lot of issues to work out and the second end of another back-to-back, on the road, against a team that beat them like a government mule, isn’t the place for those issues to be solved.
- Chris Hooker: I’m going to say 90% Atlanta, 10% New Jersey. For the Nets, everything hinges on what D-Will shows up tonight. If it’s the Turkish version (you know, the one who put up a cool 50), maybe they’ll have a better chance. If not, don’t count on Kris Humphries or Mehmet Okur to lead them to victory.
- Devin Kharpertian: Atlanta. For some reason, I’m more optimistic than normal — the Nets just can’t be as bad shooting the ball as they were the past three games for long. Averages have to return to the mean at some point. Even if that point is tonight, though, the Hawks still have more talent and experience together. The fact that it’s a home game doesn’t hurt their cause either.