The Brooklyn Nets travel to face the Atlanta Hawks on Saturday night, where the franchise aim to end a win-less streak in Atlanta dating back to November 15, 1998. Both of these teams are in the Eastern conference scramble for seeds #2 through #7.
The Hawks have lost four of their last five games, but have spent much of their recent schedule on the road; 10 of Atlanta’s last 16 games have been on the road. Overall, the Hawks hold a respectable 19-10 record at home and a 15-17 record on the road.
Josh Smith is still in Atlanta despite popular expectations at the NBA trade deadline. He dropped 32 points while picking up eight rebounds and nine assists in his team’s recent loss to the Boston Celtics. The front line of the Hawks will give Brooklyn plenty of trouble. Al Horford has picked up his play of late working alongside Smith. He has at least 21 points in 11 of his past 12 games, including 34 points against the Utah Jazz on February 27. He has also been picking up some big rebounds as well averaging more than 10 per game on the season.
Figuring out the Nets has been problematic all season long. On Friday night, Deron Williams set an NBA record with nine 3s in the first half. He picked up a season high 42 points and has generally elevated his scoring play in the last couple of weeks. He is averaging 22.6 points per game over the past 11 games and he is also picking up 6.5 assists per game. However, he had a cold spell beforehand and its hard to know when Williams is due to disappear for a few games. Still, he seems to be firing on all cylinders right now.
As uncertain as Williams has been, fellow guard Joe Johnson has been even more uncertain. Johnson has had some very cold nights in Brooklyn after being brought in to be the team’s prime shooter. Johnson went 0 for 4 on his first return to Atlanta, a team he played with for seven seasons before 2012-13. The Nets will be desperately hoping that he is pumped and motivated for this game.
Brooklyn’s guards will need to be on their games to give Brooks Lopez a little bit of extra space inside against some tough front line competition in Atlanta.
Betting Preview: Atlanta (-3) vs. Brooklyn
It’s pretty easy to understand the betting line in this case. The Hawks have dominated the Nets in Atlanta for a long time. Brooklyn also played last night and it’s hard for any betting line to trust Williams and Johnson to perform. These teams are 1-1 in the series so far, but the match-up really does seem to benefit the Hawks, though Lopez has picked up his points on both occasions.
Still, the home record is a record set to be broken sooner rather than later. The Hawks are not playing their best basketball of the season, while the Nets should feel good about their shooting. A 3-point spread should benefit Brooklyn in this match-up.
The Pick: Brooklyn (+3) [5dimes.eu]