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Nets look to beat the Hawks in Brooklyn

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Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Moral victories might make you feel good, but they still count as losses all the same. The Brooklyn Nets were heavy underdogs heading into their Saturday night contest against the undefeated Golden State Warriors and gave the champs a hell of a fight across the first 48 minutes. Unfortunately for them, the game went to overtime and G-State won 107-99. If you're looking for a positive, the team held their own against the NBA's best and had a great chance to win. We'll see if that performance can help them climb in the standings. This is the first night of a back-to-back for Brooklyn. They head to Charlotte to play the Hornets on Wednesday night.

The opponent this evening will be the Atlanta Hawks. The Hawks have managed to make up for the departure of DeMarre Carroll and are atop the Southeast division and second overall in the Eastern Conference. Their last game was on Sunday when they lost to the Utah Jazz at home by one point. This is the first night of a back-to-back. They head back to the ATL to play the Sacramento Kings on Wednesday night.

Where to follow the game

YES Network on TV and WCBS 880 AM on the radio (The Devils are on WFAN tonight. Find out more about them at All About the Jersey). Tip off is after 7:30.

Injuries

Nothing doing for the Nets aside from the long term injuries to Chris McCullough and Willie Reed.

Coach Mike Budenholzer left the team to attend to a family matter and returned on Sunday night. Here's his statement on the matter. Starting point guard Jeff Teague rolled his ankle in Boston on Friday and missed the game on Sunday. He'll be missing this game. Kent Bazemore rolled his ankle late in the game and had to be helped off the court. He's out too.

The game

The Hawks won the first meeting earlier this month in Atlanta.

He's gotten tons of criticism during his Nets tenure, but Jarrett Jack deserves some credit for his play recently. He was the team's leading scorer on Saturday and was having his best game of the year until the eight second violation in the final moments. With Teague out, Dennis Schroder will start. Schroder is a capable backup and can fill in should Teague miss an extended amount of time. Schroder is looking to be a full-time starter soon, and this is a perfect opportunity to impress Hawks management and teams looking for point guards this off-season.

I think we're beginning to reach the point where we have to ask if Joe Johnson will be better off coming off the bench. Johnson struggled once again on Saturday night, going 3-12 from the field in 41 minutes of game action. On the season, he's shooting a career low 32.5 percent from the field and 19.4 percent from three point range. Johnson has played over 42,000 regular season and postseason minutes (while being his team's top scoring option for the majority of them), and it looks like it's starting to take its toll. Bojan Bogdanovic has gotten more minutes recently and he's played well. He's shot 46 percent from the field over the last three games and has played at least 30 minutes in each one. In all likelihood, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson will be the one to see his minutes drop.

The matchup at Center should be fun. Brook Lopez has struggled shooting from the field (19-53) since the foot scare, but he's still Brooklyn's most reliable player. He says he's feeling fine, and the Nets will need him in top form against Al Horford. Horford was able to keep up with Lopez in the first meeting, and will need to do the same tonight. The big guy wasn't much of a three point shooter before this season, but he's shooting a respectable 34.1 percent from deep on his attempts this year. He can stretch the floor and that will draw Brook away from the basket. With that space, players like Schroder have some more room to drive to the basket.

Player to watch: Paul Millsap

The former All Star has been having a pretty impressive season. He's averaging 18 points and nine rebounds a night while posting a triple slash of .484/348/.746. With Teague and Bazemore out, more of the offense will go through him. He led the Hawks in field goal attempts (18) and free throw attempts (eight) vs the Jazz. Like Horford, he can score in the post and from three point range.

Aside from Lopez, Thaddeus Young has been Brooklyn's best player. Young's game is similar to Millsap in that he can score on the inside as well extend beyond the three point line. Young played 38 minutes on Saturday and with this being night one of a back-to-back, Lionel Hollins might go to his bench a bit earlier. If he does, then we ought to see a lot of Thomas Robinson. T-Rob is the only other Nets regular (RHJ is the other) with a positive plus/minus, and he's only at 0.8.

From the Vault

Crazy thing about this is that it might have been the last playoff victory Brooklyn will get for a while.

More reading: Peachtree Hoops