E-Mailing with the Enemy: Atlanta Hawks

Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

Dennis Velasco of NetsDaily e-mails with Kris Willis of Peachtree Hoops about tonight's Hawks-Nets game.

1) The Atlanta Hawks are in some great company, being one of only three teams in the Eastern Conference with a record above .500. Wait, maybe it's not so prestigious. The east basically stinks! Since Al Horford went down, the Hawks have a 2-3 record, but all three losses have basically been close, particularly a one-point loss to the Golden State Warriors. How do you think the Hawks will do moving forward sans Horford?

Kris Willis: Well they certainly aren't as good a team without Horford and there is little chance of them making a roster move to offset the loss. As you pointed out, the East is bad, so I still think the Hawks are a playoff team. Mike Budenholzer has them competing to the final buzzer every night. I'm not sure they will be able to hang on to the third seed but don't think there is a lot of danger of them missing the playoffs either.


2) Which players have stepped up since Horford's injury and will the uptick in production be sustainable? If not, who should be the one to do so and make Hawks fans happy?

KW: Early on it was Paul Millsap but he has struggled for two straight games. Mike Budenholzer said after Atlanta's recent win over Charlotte that it would take some time to figure out how to play without Al Horford. It appears the Hawks are still feeling things out. Any jump by a single player probably isn't sustainable but Lou Williams finding some consistency off the bench would be beneficial at this point.

3) Considering that trade season is basically upon us, should the Hawks explore a trade to make up for Horford's absence or is standing pat the way to go? Would a released player be a viable option? If the Cleveland Cavaliers just release Andrew Bynum, should the Hawks take a chance on the enigmatic, but talented, big man?

KW: It's my belief that Danny Ferry and his staff have been exploring ways to make the club better all season long. I don't think the Hawks should make a rash move to replace Horford when even with him this team is not a championship contender. Ferry has his eyes on the future and a move is possible but only if it doesn't negatively affect the long term outlook of the team.

4) Does the world need more Dennis Schröder in it? Heading into the 2013 NBA Draft and following Summer League, I was intrigued to see how Schröder would perform. Thus far, he doesn't seem to be really be able to get off the bench. Should he?

KW: Schröder opened the season as the back up point guard but was replaced in the rotation pretty quickly by Shelvin Mack who in many ways is the feel good story for this Hawks team this season. I'm still a big fan of Schröder and think he can be a really good player in the NBA. I think right now that Coach Budenholzer and his staff are looking for more focus from Schröder who has had a lot of careless turnovers of late. I think in many ways they are administering some tough love to the rookie but I expect to see him on the court much more as the season moves along.

5) What are three to five things that Nets fans should know about the Hawks and give us a final score to the game!

KW: 1) The Hawks shoot a lot of threes. Atlanta is fourth in the league at 25.2 three-point attempts per game but attempted 39 in a game twice last week. The three-point shot has been more of a weapon after the loss of Horford. When you think of Atlanta's three-point shooting Kyle Korver instantly comes to mind but the Hawks have nine players who have made at least 20 three-point shots this season.

2) I alluded to it earlier but this Hawks team isn't like a lot of the ones in the past that have simply mailed in games due to a lack of effort. The Hawks were down 18 in the first half on the road in Boston on New Year's Eve and came from behind to win. In years past that type of early deficit would most likely have turned into an embarrassing loss. Mike Budenholzer and his staff have talked about competitiveness since this summer and the Hawks are competing hard on most nights.

3) Jeff Teague is the key for a Hawks win. When Teague has played well the Hawks have usually performed well. When he is attacking and pushing the pace it opens up space for Atlanta's shooters like Kyle Korver and even DeMarre Carroll. We haven't seen that as much since Horford went down but if the Hawks are to win on Monday they need to try and push the pace against the Nets and Teague is the key to that.

Kris' Prediction

I hate predictions especially with Atlanta coming off of a pair of tough losses. Brooklyn looks like they are getting things together and barring injury seem to have just too much talent to remain out of the playoff picture. However, tonight I think 100 is the magic number and I am going with the Hawks in a tight 104-100 road win. Offensive pace will be the key and the Hawks are due for big games from Teague and Korver.

DV's Prediction: Atlanta Hawks 93, Brooklyn Nets 94.

Nets fans, what do you think the score will end up being?
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