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Nets take a trip down south to face the Hawks

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"Touch what I never touch before, seen what I never seen before, woke up & seen the sun SKY HIGH! SKY HIGH!"
"Touch what I never touch before, seen what I never seen before, woke up & seen the sun SKY HIGH! SKY HIGH!"
Kevin Liles-USA TODAY Sports

The Nets didn't play Portland on Monday due to the snowstorm that rocked New York City. The last time we did see the Nets on the court, they got lit up by the Utah Jazz in Salt Lake City. Brooklyn finds themselves on the outside looking in of the Eastern Conference playoff chase, and it would be in their best interests if they snuck back in. More on that in a bit.

Sixteen straight. Waiting for the Nets will be the amazing Atlanta Hawks. They now own the longest winning streak in Atlanta sports history (!!!!!) and are coming off an easy Sunday night win over the Minnesota Timberwolves. They occupy the top spot in the league and are a shade behind the Golden State Warriors for best record in the league. Speaking of the Dubs, they travel to Atlanta next Friday to play the Hawks and as of this writing, ESPN has not flexed the game into their schedule for that night. They need to.

Where to follow the game

YES Network has you covered locally while ESPN is on the national side of things. With the New Jersey Devils and Toronto Maple Leafs facing off before this game starts on WFAN (head to sister sites In Lou We Trust and Pension Plan Puppets for more on that game), WCBS 880 AM will have the Nets for you. Tip off is scheduled for a bit after 8 PM.

Injuries

Deron Williams is still out, but he's getting closer to returning.

Shelvin Mack is out with a calf injury.

The game

How's the world treating these clubs? Let's check it out:

2014-2015 Season

Brooklyn Atlanta

Record

18-26 37-8

Pace

94.34 96.05

Offensive Efficiency

99.2 107.3

Defensive Efficiency

103.7 99.6

Turnover Rate

15.3 14.9

Assist Rate

16.3 20

Offensive Rebounding Rate

22.8 21.2

Rebounding Rate

48.8 48.9

Free Throw Rate

27.4 28

Effective Field Goal Percentage

48.4 53.4

Opponent's Effective Field Goal Percentage

50.2 48.8

The Hawks won the first meeting back in December.

As of now, ex-Hawk Joe Johnson is still with the Nets. The team is in "advanced" talks to send him to the Charlotte Hornets for Lance Stephenson, Gerald Henderson and Marvin Williams.

In coaching news, the team is reportedly evaluating the performance of Lionel Hollins. Assuming the Nets continue their losing ways, the heat might turn up on Hollins. If you remember his time in Memphis, you'd know that he isn't the biggest fan of using advanced metrics in his decision making. With that being said, this isn't much of a surprise.

Here's a fun nugget. The Hawks own Brooklyn's (unprotected) first round pick for this upcoming draft. So, if the Nets continue to sink and eventually end up with a top pick, it'll go to the team that might end up with the best record in the league once the season ends. That'll be something.

Focusing on the game, the Nets will have to deal the frontcourt tag team of Paul Millsap and Al Horford. Horford's has dealt with injuries the past couple of seasons but has only missed two games this season. Big Al brings great scoring from the low post to the table along with the ability to hit jump shots from the elbow. He's an active big man that is an excellent low post defender, can stay with a guard on a pick-and-roll and a good rebounder. As for Millsap, he has similar qualities to Big Al but he has the advantage of the three pointer in his arsenal. The Nets trio of Mason Plumlee, Kevin Garnett, and Brook Lopez haven't been playing well recently, but they need a big effort in order for Brooklyn to pull off the upset. Lopez has been playing closer to the basket in recent games. That should help him out some against Horford. Once Lopez comes in, he will have to be the focal point of the offense due to Johnson fighting injury.

Horford and Millsap have good cases for why they should be on the All Star team, and the same can be said for Jeff Teague. Teague has been having the best season of his young career. He's got a career high true shooting percentage of 58.3 thanks to his success getting to the rim and free throw line. Teague puts a lot of pressure on opposing defenses and this will leave Jarrett Jack and other Net defenders in a bind. They can't help off of their man because the Hawks are littered with good three point shooters who will convert on open looks. Jack will have to keep Teague in front of him because if he doesn't, Teague will get Lopez and Plumlee in foul trouble.

Player to watch: Kyle Korver

Korver has been amazing for the Hawks this year. Over at The Cauldron, Kevin McElroy puts this in perspective:

He’s the same guy he’s always been, just a better version of it. Korver takes approximately one three-pointer for every six minutes he spends on the court, and, so far this year, has made 53.6 percent of them. As of this writing, his three-point percentage would be the league’s 14th-best field goal percentage and the 13 players he trails include Kevin Durant and 12 big men. That’s insane.

Oh, can't forget about the time he was rumored to be joining Brooklyn. Joe Johnson isn't 100 percent and having to chase Korver around won't make him feel better. The Hawks are the second best three point shooting team in the league while the Nets are one of the worst at defending it. When Johnson is on offense, Korver's defense should help him out. KK is a better defender than he is given credit for and with Johnson hobbled, he doesn't figure to make a big splash against his former team.

From the Vault

We're a couple weeks away from All Star Weekend, and with that in mind, head on back to 1988 and watch Dominique Wilkins and Michael Jordan go at it in the Slam Dunk Contest.

More reading: Peachtree Hoops