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Nets look to extend winning streak to Atlanta

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"A-T-L. Cruisin' in the ATLLLLL. Cruisin' in the ATL, we cruisin' in the A-T-LLLLLLLLLLLLL...BREAK"
"A-T-L. Cruisin' in the ATLLLLL. Cruisin' in the ATL, we cruisin' in the A-T-LLLLLLLLLLLLL...BREAK"
Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Six straight! Things are still looking up for the Brooklyn Nets and they got a 114-109 victory over the Toronto Raptors in Brooklyn last night. If the season were to end today, they would be in the playoffs. However, there's a long way to go between now and the end of the regular season. They're going to need to continue playing well if they want to hold on to their spot.

Waiting for the Nets will be the Eastern Conference leading Atlanta Hawks. It's been an incredible season for them as they have exceeded all expectations and will own homecourt advantage throughout the East playoffs. They've had a few days off, and when they were last on the court, they lost to the Detroit Pistons. At this point, the team has nothing left to play for and is hoping to get healthy for the playoffs.

Where to follow the game

With the Final Four going on tonight (network plug: go read A Sea of Blue for Kentucky, The Only Colors for Michigan State, Bucky's 5th Quarter for Wisconsin, and Duke Basketball Report for the Blue Devils.), WFAN will be occupied. You can listen to the Nets on WCBS 880 AM and watch on the YES Network. Tip is after 7:30.

Hand in hand

Last night, the Pacers beat the Hornets and the Bucks beat the Celtics. Here's an updated look at the playoff picture:

2014-2015

Record

Games behind

Tiebreaker situation

Games remaining

Milwaukee

38-38 own tiebreaker over Hornets, Heat,and Celtics, split series vs.Pacers, lead 2-1 vs. Nets (final meeting on 4/12) 6

Brooklyn

35-40

-

own tiebreaker vs. Charlotte and Indiana, lost season series to Celtics and Heat, down 2-1 to Milwaukee 7

Miami

34-41

-

own tiebreaker over Nets and Celtics, down 2-1 to Hornets (final meeting on 4/7), lost series vs. Pacers and Bucks 7

Boston

34-42

0.5

Won season series vs. Nets, Hornets, and Pacers, down 1-0 to Bucks, lost season series vs. Heat 6

Indiana

33-43

1.5

split series with Bucks, lost season series to Nets and Celtics, own tiebreaker vs. Hornets and Heat 6

Charlotte

32-43

2

lost season series to Nets, Pacersand Celtics, lead 2-1 vs. Heat, won season series vs. Bucks 7

Tonight, Charlotte hosts Philadelphia, Miami goes to Detroit, and Boston goes to Toronto.

Injuries

Alan Anderson needed to be helped off the court with what appeared to be an ankle sprain. He did not travel with the team, giving Lionel Hollins 12 healthy bodies to work with.

Mike Scott figures to be back by the playoffs. Dennis Schroder is questionable.

The game

What's going on here? Let's get into it:

2014-2015 Season

Brooklyn Atlanta

Record

35-40 56-19

Pace

94.91 96.12

Offensive Efficiency

101.1 106.1

Defensive Efficiency

104.7 100.9

Turnover Rate

14.4 14.9

Assist Rate

16.3 19.6

Offensive Rebounding Rate

23.6 21.4

Rebounding Rate

48.8 48.2

Free Throw Rate

26.8 26.3

Effective Field Goal Percentage

49.1 52.6

Opponent's Effective Field Goal Percentage

50.2 49.2

The Hawks won the first meeting in December and second in January.

Expect to hear a lot of talk about the Hawks getting the Nets upcoming pick in the NBA Draft. A month ago, this matchup would've been catastrophic for the Nets as they were struggling and near the bottom of the Eastern Conference. With the Nets in better position, this game isn't as ominous as expected. If the Draft were held now, the Hawks would have the No. 16 pick, the Nets the No. 29. They're not out of the woods yet though.

Atlanta's last game was the second half of a back-to-back, so it's understandable that Mike Budenholzer didn't play his guys too many minutes. With the extra days off, I think it's safe to assume that his starters will play close to their regular amount of minutes tonight.

The Thaddeus Young trade might turn out to be the best acquisition made at the deadline. Young had his best game as a Net, scoring 29 points, collecting four steals and making a critical tip-in late that put the Nets up for good. The tag team of Young and Brook Lopez has been crucial for the Nets and should Brooklyn get into the postseason, they'll create some difficulty for teams covering them. The Hawks duo of Paul Millsap and Al Horford can provide some trouble. Both of them are physical defenders, solid on the glass, and can step out and consistently make jumpers (and in the case of Millsap, the three point line). Should these teams meet in the playoffs, it's a pair of matchups to keep a close eye on.

Player to watch: Jeff Teague

Teague has been having the best season of his six year career. He was named to his first All Star team this year and has a lot of great attributes that make him one of the better point guards in a PG dominant Association. He can get to the rim, draws a good amount of fouls and does a great job of orchestrating the league's sixth most efficient offense. With Teague's ability to get to the rim and the offense of Budenholzer, the Hawks have a lot of great scoring options and probably represent the greatest threat to LeBron James in the Eastern Conference.

Deron Williams has turned things around at just the right time for Brooklyn. D-Will had his best game of the year last night against Toronto, scoring a season high 31 points and handing out 11 assists while making five three pointers. One big thing from last night's game was the lack of Jarrett Jack in the second half. With this being the second night of a back-to-back and another game coming up on Monday (the makeup for the contest that was cancelled earlier due to the storm), that won't happen again.

From the Vault

We're taking two trips into the vault today. It's Final Four Weekend and the teams in it have a good amount of history against one another. Head back to the 1999 Final Four to watch Duke against Michigan State

and last year when Kentucky and Wisconsin got it on:

More reading: Peachtree HoopsHot, Hot Hoops, and Celtics Blog,