Tonight, the Nets will be in Atlanta to face the Hawks at 7:30 PM. In three previous meetings this season, the Nets are 0-3, and have gotten blown out in all 3 games. The Nets’ first home game this year was against the Hawks, where they lost 106-70. Recently, the Hawks have had a ton of injury problems, with Al Horford, Marvin Williams, Vladimir Radmanovic, Jannero Pargo, and Ivan Johnson all missing the last game, a home victory over the Cavaliers. It is likely that Williams and Johnson will play tonight, though. The Nets are currently at a low point in the season, having lost three straight home games to New Orleans, Cleveland, and Washington, and just received more bad news this morning that Brook Lopez will miss at least another two weeks. I don’t expect this game to be close.
I think that Nets fans should start rooting for this team to tank so that it can get a top 3 pick. All playoff hopes are gone, and the top 3 pick may be the only thing that can save the franchise right now. The Nets just finished the easiest stretch of their schedule, and went 0-3 in it. I think it is fair to say that this team is terrible.
Now I will talk about this game a little bit. The Nets have as untalented a roster as they have ever had with all of their injuries. The only way they win this game is if Deron Williams comes into it very mad about his ejection and just takes the game over. He will need at least 40 points for the Nets to win, maybe more. I don’t predict this happening. Deron will probably just be frustrated and give up. The Hawks really don’t have one superstar, so expect a balanced attack from them. If Marshon Brooks is guarding Joe Johnson, expect a big game from Johnson. Marshon has not played well recently, and I don’t expect a quick turnaround from him in this game.
The Nets really don’t match up well with the Hawks at all, and I will show you why by breaking down every starter’s matchup.
Deron Williams vs. Jeff Teague. Advantage: Williams.
Obviously, the point guard matchup is one that will almost always favor the Nets as D-Will is a top 5 NBA point guard. However, Jeff Teague is a very nice player. He is averaging 12 points and 4 assists a game, and he is still learning how to be an NBA point guard. He is very quick, maybe quicker than Williams, and he should be able to score a good amount tonight.
Marshon Brooks vs. Joe Johnson. Advantage: Johnson.
Johnson is a very good offensive player and Brooks is a very bad defensive player. Also, Johnson is a good veteran player, while Brooks is a rookie. Despite this, Marshon has had some big games against Atlanta this year, but all those games were in the beginning of the season. Expect to see a different result tonight.
Gerald Wallace vs. Marvin Williams. Advantage: Wallace (by just a bit).
Marvin Williams was taken ahead of Chris Paul and Deron Williams in the 2005 draft, and by those standards, he has been a bust. But by NBA standards, he is still a solid starter and he is not a bad player. Gerald Wallace is more physical, and is a better play-maker, but this matchup should be pretty even.
Kris Humphries vs. Josh Smith. Advantage: Smith (by a ton).
I have nothing against The Hump, but this is just a terrible matchup for him. He likes playing big, slow guys who score in the post and can’t shoot. Smith is the complete opposite. He is one of the most athletic players in the NBA and even shoots some 3′s. He will have any look he wants tonight, because Humphries will not go out to contest a 3. Expect a big, big game from Smith tonight.
Shelden Williams vs. Zaza Pachulia. Advantage: Pachulia.
This matchup will be pretty even. Both players rarely effect the outcome of a game.
My bold prediction for tonight’s game is that both Joe Johnson and Josh Smith will score over 25 points. The Hawks will win easily, 105-90.