After 4 days off, the Brooklyn Nets (15-22) have landed in England, and are set to take on the Atlanta Hawks (20-18) at the O2 arena in London Thursday night. Even though it will be a night game for the players and fans at the game, it actually will start at 3 pm eastern time.
The Nets are coming off a back-to-back on Friday and Saturday night, but they haven’t played since then. They have won 5 of their past 6 games. Atlanta is just 2-4 in their last 6 games, including a loss in Brooklyn 10 days ago. This is technically an Atlanta home game, so the Hawks, and not the Nets, will lose one home game on their schedule. In fact, the Nets will not even travel to Atlanta at all this season because they were only scheduled to play one Atlanta road game.
One interesting note is that the Nets return to the arena where Deron Williams played his very first game for the franchise almost 3 years ago. However, he has not made the trip with the team for this game.
Injuries: The Nets’ major injury concern right now is Deron Williams, who is missing the London trip with more ankle issues, although he could be back as soon as Monday in Manhattan. The Hawks lost their center, Al Horford, for the season, much like the Nets lost Brook Lopez. Pero Antic and John Jenkins may also be out.
Shaun Livingston vs. Jeff Teague. Advantage: Livingston
Teague has been pretty good this year, averaging 17 points and 8 assists, but there aren’t many point guards in the league playing better than Shaun Livingston right now. He didn’t have his best game in the Nets’ loss in Toronto, but he had maybe his best game ever against Miami last week. I like his size advantage over Teague in this matchup.
Alan Anderson vs. Kyle Korver. Advantage: Korver
Alan Anderson continues to start for the Nets with Deron Williams out. He has definitely struggled recently. Korver’s ridiculous 3-pointer streak is still alive and he is shooting an equally ridiculous 48% from 3 this year. Hopefully playing in an arena he has never played in before will throw him off. The last time these teams played, the Nets did a very good job preventing Korver from getting open looks.
Joe Johnson vs. DeMarre Carroll. Advantage: Johnson
Carroll, who has been a journeyman bench player for a number of years, is getting a chance to start this year with the Hawks. He is averaging 9 points and 5 rebounds per game. Joe Johnson appears to be out of his slump now, especially after the Miami game where he scored 22 points in the first quarter. He will hopefully have some extra motivation going up against his old team.
Paul Pierce vs. Paul Millsap. Advantage: Millsap
Millsap is having a very strong year, averaging 17 points and 9 rebounds per game. However, Paul Pierce defended him pretty well the last time these teams met and both players are undersized power forwards even though that is Millsap’s natural position.
Kevin Garnett vs. Elton Brand/Gustavo Ayon. Advantage: Garnett
Kevin Garnett is currently in the best stretch of his short Nets career and had one of his better games on Friday against Miami before getting the night off on Saturday. The Hawks are really a mess at the center position now. If Pero Antic can’t play, Atlanta really doesn’t have any other true center options.
Bold prediction: Shaun Livingston records a double-double. I don’t know if that will be with rebounds or assists, but I really think he plays well today after getting plenty of rest.
Score prediction: Nets 92, Hawks 83. The Nets are playing well right now and will probably have more fans at this game than the Hawks even though it is technically an Atlanta home game.