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Hawks look to damage Nets playoff chances

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"We drop bows on em, drop bows on em, when we throw them bows..."
"We drop bows on em, drop bows on em, when we throw them bows..."
Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

One step closer. Thanks to the terrible weather from earlier this winter, the Brooklyn Nets and Portland Trailblazers found themselves playing Monday night in Brooklyn while the rest of the NBA had the night off. Portland gave some of their key players the night off and the Nets took full advantage with a 106-96 victory. Brooklyn is seventh in the conference, but they haven't clinched a playoff spot as of yet and the competition should become even more fierce with the season coming to a close. More on that in a minute.

Making the trip into the Barclays Center will be the Eastern Conference leading Atlanta Hawks. It's been a fantastic season for the ATL and they're counting down the days until the playoffs begin. This is the second night of a back-to-back for the Hawks. They beat up on the Phoenix Suns last night and set the single season team record for wins in a season. Now, to see if they can make their first trip to the Conference Finals since the 1969-1970 season.

Where to follow the game

Baseball is back and that creates a problem on two fronts for the Nets viewing audience. The Nets are broadcast on the radio and television homes of the New York Yankees, YES Network and WFAN 101.9 FM respectively. WCBS 880 AM has you on radio, and for TV, look here and find your provider. However, still no word on whether Comcast subscribers will be able to view the game. YES hopes --but is uncertain-- that it will have a channel by game time.

Hand in hand

Last night, the Heat beat the Hornets in Miami. Here's an updated look at the standings, tiebreakers, etc.

2014-2015

Record

Games behind

Tiebreaker situation

Games remaining

Milwaukee

38-39 own tiebreaker over Hornets,Heat,and Celtics, split series vs.Pacers, lead 2-1 vs. Nets (final meeting on 4/12) 5

Brooklyn

36-41

-

own tiebreaker vs. Charlotte and Indiana, lost season series to Celtics and Heat, down 2-1 to Milwaukee 5

Boston

35-42

-

Won season series vs. Nets, Hornets, and Pacers, down 1-0 to Bucks, lost season series vs. Heat 5

Miami

35-43

0.5

own tiebreaker over Nets and Celtics, split season series vs. Hornets, lost series vs. Pacers and Bucks 4

Indiana

34-43

1

split series with Bucks, lost season series to Nets and Celtics, own tiebreaker vs. Hornets and Heat 5

Charlotte

33-44

2

lost season series to Nets, Pacers and Celtics, split season series vs. Heat, won season series vs. Bucks 5

Tonight, Charlotte hosts Toronto, Boston goes to Detroit, Indiana heads to MSG, and Milwaukee hosts Cleveland.

Injuries

Alan Anderson is questionable with an ankle injury.

Paul Millsap will sit this one out so he can rest his shoulder.

The game

What's the story? Let's find out

2014-2015 Season

Brooklyn Atlanta

Record

36-41 58-19

Pace

94.93 96.13

Offensive Efficiency

101.9 106.5

Defensive Efficiency

105.1 101

Turnover Rate

14.4 14.9

Assist Rate

16.4 19.7

Offensive Rebounding Rate

23.7 21.4

Rebounding Rate

48.8 48.1

Free Throw Rate

26.7 26.3

Effective Field Goal Percentage

49.2 52.9

Opponent's Effective Field Goal Percentage

50.5 49.3

The Hawks won the first game in December, second in late January, and third last Saturday night.

Nothing's changed with the draft pick situation, so I might as well quote myself from last Saturday's game preview:

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.

With this being the second night of a back-to-back for Atlanta, they might limit the minutes of their key players. However, they had a light night against the Suns and with something to gain if Brooklyn misses the playoffs, they have incentive to play hard.

Brook Lopez has been earning lots of love around the league recently. He was named Player of the Week for the second straight week, the first time that's happened in franchise history. Over the past ten games, Lopez is averaging 25.6 points and 8.8 rebounds in 36 minutes a game while shooting 60.2 percent from the field and 80 percent from the free throw line. Over the past couple of months and during this run in particular, Lopez has been getting the ball closer and closer to the rim. Al Horford and Pero Antic will be the ones primarily responsible for keeping Lopez in check. Horford is a tough defender on the inside and is a good rebounder. Having him back for the playoffs (he missed last year's) will do wonders for Atlanta against whichever team they meet in the first round. On offense, he can score in the low post and from the perimeter. Antic can draw defenders out to the perimeter with his three point shot, which he shoots at a 29.6 percent clip.

Deron Williams has been playing well of late and going up against Jeff Teague will be a great test. Williams scored 24 points and handed out ten assists on Monday night and now that his game is back on the right track, he should be able to carry it through the rest of the season. He's played 30+ minutes in five out of the last six games, and if this game is close, he'll be out there for most of the second half.  Teague has missed a few games here and there, so he's a prime candidate to have a lighter workload tonight. Dennis Schroder is his primary backup and while he too has missed some time due to injury this year, he should see a lot of minutes tonight in preparation for next weekend.

Player to watch: DeMarre Carroll

While Carroll wasn't named to the All Star like the other regular starters, he was named Player of the Month along with the All Stars in January. That was the first time something like that ever happened in league history. Carroll is a solid player to have in your lineup. He's someone the defenses need to cling to when Teague gets to the rim (41 percent from three point range in catch-and-shoot situations), finishes well at the rim (63.6 percent inside of the restricted area), and is a capable defender on the perimeter (34.8 percent on defense past 15 feet). When the playoffs begin next weekend, he'll find himself guarding the opponent's best perimeter player, whoever that may be.

Carroll will defend Joe Johnson tonight. Johnson only made one shot against Portland, but he did collect six rebounds and hand out six assists. Even if his shot isn't falling, Johnson can still contribute to the Nets offense. Lionel Hollins has made a habit of using Johnson at the power forward, but it's not the wisest strategy and having Thaddeus Young on the roster and playing should ensure that Johnson isn't slotted at the four spot.

From the Vault

The Hawks will be the one seed for the first time since 1994. Also in '94, they made the inexplicable decision to trade Dominique Wilkins to the Clippers for Danny Manning. Let's take a trip back to January of '94 and watch 'Nique and them take on Charles Barkley and the Phoenix Suns.

More reading: Peachtree HoopsBrew HoopCeltics BlogAt the Hive, and Indy Cornrows