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Hawks vs Nets Game 4 preview: Atlanta seeks improvement and a 3-1 series lead

The Hawks will aim for a 3-1 series lead against the Brooklyn Nets in Game 4 on Monday evening.

Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

It is probably safe to assume that the Atlanta Hawks were less than pleased with their Game 3 performance.

The Hawks saw any notion of a sweep fly out the window with an offensively challenged performance against the Brooklyn Nets, and in the aftermath of the loss, Mike Budenholzer simply stated that his team would be "ready to go" for Game 4. Now, Game 4 is upon us.

With credit to Brooklyn's defensive intensity, Atlanta simply fell flat on the offensive end on Saturday afternoon. Unfortunately, it wasn't the first time in this series that the offense failed to live up to its previously lofty standard, but Game 3 was different in that the Hawks simply missed open shots, couldn't catch passes and generally floundered across the board with the exception of DeMarre Carroll.

Monday's Game 4 is vitally important for the Hawks, in that they would undoubtedly prefer to avoid a return trip to Brooklyn. If the Hawks are able to win on Monday and again on Wednesday at Philips Arena, the feisty Nets won't have the opportunity to throw a wrench in Atlanta's plans, and that is what matters most in the end.

From a schematic standpoint, the Hawks desperately need improvement from the point guard position. Both Jeff Teague and Dennis Schröder struggled mightily in Game 3, and even on a day when both Deron Williams and Jarrett Jack didn't have their "A"-game for Brooklyn, the lack of production from the point guard spot helped to doom Mike Budenholzer's team. In general, this isn't an area of extreme worry, but it would ease the minds of some to see one or both of the Teague-Schröder pairing excel in Game 4.

It has been a series-long trend, but the Hawks also must focus on the defensive glass. Atlanta held Brooklyn to only eight offensive rebounds in the Game 2 win, but that regressed a bit to 12 in Game 3, and their opponent needs those extra possessions in order to be competent offensively. Al Horford and Paul Millsap have their hands full with the somewhat unusual pairing of Brook Lopez and Thaddeus Young, but keeping them off the glass would be a strong start.

On the rare occasion when the Atlanta Hawks have been pushed to the brink this season, they have responded with flying colors. That is the case again here in Game 4, and frankly, it would be a shock to see a similarly inept effort with regard to Game 3. Because it could be a "last stand" of sorts for the Nets, it is safe to expect their best effort, but if both teams play up to their potential, the Hawks will be victorious. Either way, we will be here throughout the day. Stay tuned.