If you want to sum the Atlanta Hawks up in a nutshell this season they have been exceptional at home and struggled on the road. Thursday's game is technically a home game but the reality is it will be played over 4,000 miles from Philips Arena.
The Hawks look to bounce back from Sunday's loss in Memphis when they take on the Brooklyn Nets at London's O2 Arena. Atlanta had won two straight before Sunday's loss and is 20-18 on the season. Brooklyn took the earlier meeting between the two clubs 91-86. Paul Millsap and Jeff Teague scored 16 points each for Atlanta but were a combined 9-37 from the field in that earlier meeting. Joe Johnson led the way against his former club with a game high 23 points.
Keeping Johnson in check on Thursday is priority No. 1 for the Hawks who will be without small forward DeMarre Carroll who is not on the trip due to the birth of his daughter. No word on who will start in place of Carroll yet but Mike Scott and Millsap are likely to see some time matched against Johnson.
Brooklyn comes into the game playing well and having won five of six. Most of that streak coming without the services of point guard Deron Williams who will also miss Thursday's game due to ongoing issues with his ankle. Shaun Livingston is expected to start at the point for the Nets and he had a good performance against the Hawks in the first meeting finishing with 12 points, five rebounds and three steals. The Nets are 15-22 on the season but are currently in eighth place in the watered down Eastern Conference.
As is the case for many of Atlanta's games this one comes down to pace. If the Hawks can rebound enough and push the basketball, then good things usually happen for them on the offensive end of the floor. If they let Brooklyn slow things down as in the first meeting then they tend to struggle offensively. Atlanta responded to that earlier loss with two spirited efforts defensively and it will take a similar performance to pull out a victory today.
Game Date/Time: Thursday, January 16, 3 p.m. ET
Location: The O2 Arena, London, England
TV: SportSouth, NBA TV
Radio: 92.9 "The Game" FM
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