Kevin C. Cox
The Atlanta Hawks have lost four of five and look to get back on track when they take on Joe Johnson and the Brooklyn Nets Saturday at Philips Arena.
Friday's 107-102 loss to the Boston Celtics dropped the Atlanta Hawks all the way to seventh place in the Eastern Conference. They return home on Saturday looking to right the ship against the Brooklyn Nets.
Despite being in seventh place, the gap between the top half of the standings isn't that large. Atlanta trails fourth place Brooklyn by 1.5 games which makes Saturday's game all the more important. The Hawks and Nets split the first two meetings with each team winning on its home floor. The two teams will meet again at the Barclays Center on March 17.
Atlanta faced the Celtics on Friday in a playoff atmosphere. They fell behind early in the fourth quarter but came back late to force overtime. In overtime they struggled with their execution resulting in two costly turnovers late that ended up sealing the game for Boston. The loss was Atlanta's fourth in its last five games.
Brooklyn comes into the game with a little momentum after a two game winning streak including a 95-78 win over the Wizards on Friday. Deron Williams poured in 42 points against Washington and hit an NBA record nine threes in the first half. The Nets have lost eight straight games at Philips Arena.
Joe Johnson scored 15 and 18 points in the first two meetings with the Hawks. He had just six points on 3-10 shooting against the Wizards on Friday. Johnson is averaging 16.7 points per game this season on 43 percent shooting from the floor.
The Hawks played without DeShawn Stevenson, Zaza Pachulia and Ivan Johnson Friday and only Stevenson is a sure bet to return on Saturday. Stevenson typically doesn't play in back-to-backs due to knee issues and Larry Drew opted to give him an extra day of rest. He is a good bet to be in the team's starting lineup on Saturday.
Zaza Pachulia missed his third straight game on Friday with a sore Achilles that has bothered him since before the All-Star break. Ivan Johnson didn't travel to Boston for personal reasons and his status for Saturday's game is unknown.
Game Date/Time: Saturday, March 9, 7 p.m. ET
Location: Philips Arena, Atlanta, Georgia
Radio: 680 The Fan, 93.7 FM
Online Streaming: NBA League Pass Broadband
Odds: The Hawks are currently favored by three at home over the Nets