After Tuesday’s spectacular flop in New York, the Atlanta Hawks showed signs of life in a close-fought to the Utah Jazz on Thursday. However, the Hawks must return to the Big Apple on Saturday — albeit in a different venue and against a different opponent — for a road game against the Brooklyn Nets.
Lloyd Pierce’s team has dropped six straight games and the Hawks have 17 losses in their last 19 outings. Obviously, that isn’t ideal under any circumstances and, the last time these two teams met, the Hawks fell short by double-digits at home. Following that defeat, Atlanta did bounce back with a win over Charlotte but, since then, the Hawks haven’t picked up a victory and the team awaits the pending return of John Collins on Monday.
Until then, however, the Hawks must operate without their best big man for one game and this is an intriguing match-up. Pierce was candid in saying that, after lineup changes on Thursday, similar groupings would take the floor against the Nets. Some of that stems from Brooklyn deploying traditional, non-shooting bigs in De’Andre Jordan and Jarrett Allen, but the Hawks also showed a bit more activity with the team’s smaller, younger units against Utah.
While the Nets are a playoff team at the moment (something the Hawks are closely monitoring for draft-related purposes), it isn’t as if this is anything but a winnable game for the Hawks if they perform at maximum capacity. Brooklyn is without Kyrie Irving, David Nwaba and Caris LeVert (in addition to Kevin Durant), leaving the team a bit short-handed at the moment. While the Nets are 11-6 with Irving sidelined, the home team won’t hold an overwhelming talent edge as a result. The point guard match-up between Trae Young and Spencer Dinwiddie could help to decide the final outcome and, beyond that, the Nets profile as a team that could take advantage of Atlanta’s defensive rebounding woes.
At present, the Hawks are 7.5-point road underdogs in Brooklyn, illustrating the potential for an uphill battle. If Atlanta can replicate its showing against Utah, though, a competitive product will transpire, and that could provide hope for Monday’s game and beyond.
Stay tuned throughout the day and be encouraged to utilize the comments below as a “game thread” for the action.
Game Date/Time: Saturday, Dec. 21, 6:00 pm ET
Location: Barclays Center
TV: Fox Sports Southeast, NBA League Pass
Radio: 92.9 The Game (Atlanta); Hawks Radio Network
Streaming: Fox Sports Go, NBA League Pass