UPDATE #2: Deron Williams has been declared OUT for the game, per Chris Vivlamore of the AJC.
UPDATE: Brooklyn point guard Deron Williams is a game-time decision for tonight’s game with an ankle injury. If he can’t go, it would be a huge edge for the Hawks, as the Nets would be forced to play a combination of Shaun Livingston, Tyshawn Taylor, and maybe old friend Jason Terry at the point.
Nets say Deron Williams (ankle) is a game-time decision. #ATLHawks
— Chris Vivlamore (@ajchawks) January 6, 2014
Date: January 6, 2014
Tip-Off Time: 7:30 PM ET
TV Channel: SportSouth (Local in Atlanta), NBA League Pass
Radio: 92.9 FM (Atlanta Flagship), Atlanta Hawks Radio Network Affiliates
Live Stream: League Pass Broadband
It’s the NBA Draft positioning bowl! Okay, that may be a bit much, but if there’s one team that Hawks fans are “invested” in this season, it’s the Brooklyn Nets, and Atlanta will have an opportunity to knock them down a peg this evening. In case you missed it, the Hawks dropped their last game on the road to the Chicago Bulls on Saturday night (this writer was on his death bed with sickness), and they’ll be looking to right the ship in the Big Apple tonight.
For those unfamiliar with the draft implications, Atlanta fans should be openly rooting for Brooklyn failure this season, as Danny Ferry somehow swindled the right to swap draft picks with Brooklyn this season. The Nets have obliged thus far with a 12-21 record, but unfortunately for the Hawks, there are signs of them getting things corrected. Brooklyn has won 2 straight games, and they are playing much better, despite the season-long absence of their center (sound familiar?) in Brook Lopez.
The Nets have certainly been a mess this season, though, with a 26th-ranked net rating of -4.2 points per 100 possessions, and their defense is the catalyst for that low mark. Somehow, a team that employs Kevin Garnett (we’ll come back to this) is 28th in defensive efficiency at 106.2 points per 100, and with Lopez off the floor, they’ve been even worse.
Paul Millsap is coming off of yet another double-double with 16 points and 12 boards on Saturday, but in all fairness, his offensive production has been woeful the past two games, shooting a combined 8-for-32 from the floor. He’ll presumably be guarded by the aforementioned Garnett (who is having the worst season of his career, by far), and that is a good thing in this twisted season.
If there is a strength on this Nets team right now, it’s definitely in the backcourt, and that includes our old friend Joe Johnson. Johnson has been the most consistent member of the Nets this season, averaging 14.9 points per game to “lead” the team if you take out Lopez, and DeMarre Carroll will presumably draw that assignment this evening. He’s always capable of a breakout, and perhaps playing against his old team will light a fire under “Joe Cool”.
At the point, there is another high-profile match-up, as Jeff Teague takes on Deron Williams. Williams has shown flashes of his old, brilliant self, but for the most part, he’s been underwhelming this year (sensing a trend?) at 13.6 points and 6.9 assists per game. Still, Williams provides a unique combination of size and strength at the point guard spot, and it’ll be interesting to see how Jeff responds.
It’s time to check in on Kyle Korver, and he’s made a 3 in a staggering 103 consecutive games. Korver puts the streak back on the line this evening, and while it’s becoming “ho hum’ for some people, it is more impressive with each passing day. Brooklyn should be the easiest target in the entire league for Kyle, as they rank dead-last in opponent’s 3-point percentage (39.4%) and if there was ever a day where it would be tragic to see the streak snapped, this is it.
Las Vegas have made the Nets between a 2.5 and 3-point favorite in the game, and that one puzzles me a bit. The Hawks certainly haven’t been the same team without Al Horford, but despite the venue (which can probably be attributed as the culprit for the line), the Hawks are still the better team when you factor in Lopez’s absence. Still, it’s a virtual coinflip (as most road games are), and it would be a good finish to the road trip to get a win.
Stay tuned for updates throughout the night, and a full recap to follow.