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Hawks, with Vince Carter, Jeremy Lin, invade Barclays Sunday afternoon

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NBA: Golden State Warriors at Atlanta Hawks Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

The Nets beat the Wizards friday night and have now won four games in a row. I don’t want to get too ahead of myself here, but there’s a legitimate chance it turns into five. The Atlanta Hawks are heading up to the Barclays center for Sunday’s matchup, proud owners of the league’s third worst record with only the Bulls, who are coached by a thumb, and Suns who just had a trade fall apart because they didn’t know which Brooks they were getting, trailing them in the race to the bottom. They’ve lost two straight and six of their last seven. Time to pick up another W, let’s get into it.

Where To Follow The Game

YES and WCBS 880 have it at 3:00 pm, ET because it’s Sunday. John Sterling will be doing the game and there’s a joint Nets/Yankees theme. Sterling, now 80 years old, started out as a Nets announcer in 1975 during their ABA days out on the Island.


Caris Levert (foot) is still out but Treveon Graham (hamstring) was assigned to Long Island Saturday so he could practice, then brought back up to Brooklyn. So maybe we see him back in action soon. Allen Crabbe (knee) missed the Wizards game, and is doubtful for .

Miles Plumlee (knee) has missed three straight games, Alex Poythress (ankle) has been out for a month, and Omari Spellman (hip) has missed three straight. Taurean Prince is out with an ankle injury and will be re-evaluated in a few weeks.

The Game

Without exaggeration, the best thing about the Hawks this season might be Vince Carter and Kent Bazemore’s new podcast “Winging It” on The Ringer. It’s really good! Great insider basketball stuff, plus it’s where Steph Curry admitted he doesn’t believe in the moon landing. Plus Vince Carter! Check it out. Because the actual Hawks are not worth checking out.

Unsurprisingly, Atlanta has the third worst Net Rating in the league at -9.4, the worst turnover percentage at 17.5%, and they allow the most three pointers per game in the entire league at 13.0. They’re surprisingly not atrocious at defense, ranking 23rd in Defensive Rating, just two spots behind the Nets, but they’re certainly not good enough to make up for their lack of offensive firepower. This is a team playing for Zion Williamson, not wins.

The Nets, who score 32.9% of their points off of three pointers, are well suited to take down this lackluster Hawks team. They hit 11 of 31, good for 35.5% against the Wizards and it was enough to take Washington down without too much stress. Even without the hot shooting Crabbe, the Nets were fine from outside, even if they took a few less shots from deep than their average 35. Crabbe missing the game also meant Rodions Kurucs got a chance to start, so let’s talk about that for a moment.

I don’t think Crabbe got Wally Pipped. I really don’t. Once he’s healthy and back he’ll probably take his spot in the starting lineup. He was shooting well and he makes a lot of money and Kenny clearly likes him. What I do think happened, was that Rodi solidified himself a spot in this rotation that’s going to be tough to lose. He closed the game out again, more significant than starting, and played his ass off like we’ve come to expect from him at this point.

He’s feisty, scored another career high 15 points and was +5 for the second straight game. In 13 games this season, he has a positive plus/minus in 11 games, a 0 in one game, and a -2 in one game. For a guy who’s still learning the NBA, American culture, Kenny’s system, and where he fits in on the floor with the other guys on the team, all before he can legally drink in the U.S., I’d go ahead and determine his play somehow even more impressive than I expected, and I am driving the Rodi bandwagon.

The entire team just seems to be hitting their stride right now, and an interesting wrinkle has been D’Angelo Russell’s seemingly new role as facilitator first, scorer second. Over his last three he’s averaging 9.7 points and 9.0 assists and he looks good. He’s not shooting great, and his minutes are down to just under 27 a game, but there’s something about the way he’s fitting into the system that makes everything run a lot more smoothly. Sometimes the eye test matters most, and I’m a fan of his new role especially during Dinwiddie’s hot streak. Spencer, by the way, is averaging 30.3 points over those same three games. Not a coincidence.

Oh yeah, Jeremy Lin plays for the Hawks. You remember Lin? He bravely joined the Nets in 2016, based on his love of Kenny Atkinson ... and not the prospect of winning. Then he went down early in the season not once but twice. He missed 127 games in his two year stint with the Nets.

He was traded to the Hawks on the night of July 12 along with the Nets second rounder in 2025 and the right to swap second rounders in 2023.

In return, the Nets got Portland’s heavily protected second in 2020 and the rights to Isaia Cordinier, a 6’5” French shooting guard. That in turn gave the Nets enough cap room to do a salary dump with Denver that netted them Kenneth Faried, the Nuggets 2019 first and their 2020 second, all for Isaiah Whitehead.

How’s he doing? Fine. In 24 games, mostly as Trae Young’s back-up and mentor, he’s averaging 10.4 points and 2.4 rebounds, shooting better than 50 percent overall and 40 percent from three point range. Lin, you will remember, is a competitive guy and he had hoped to stay in Brooklyn this season. Revenge game? Bet on it.

Player To Watch

I literally could not believe my ears when Adam Silver announced the trade that sent Luka Doncic to the Mavericks and Trae Young to the Hawks. I watched a ton of Luka tape and it was very clear to me that he’s a special talent, and every time I watched Trae Young in college he mostly reminded me of Jimmer Fredette. I actually wanted the Knicks to take him so I could make fun of my friend Drew for his team blowing yet another draft pick, that’s how highly I thought of Trae Young.

Now, both of those guys are only a handful of games into what are going to be long NBA careers, but it’s clear the Hawks made a mistake. Luka looks amazing and Trae Young looks like Steph Curry from an alternate universe where Steph had a normal Dad who didn’t play in the NBA. He’s shooting 37% from the field and 23% from three on 5.6 attempts per game. He has a perpetual green light because who else is going to shoot the ball on that team? Justin Anderson? Deandre Bembry? No thanks.

Might Young just be on a bad team and take bad shots because he has to and is even encouraged to? Sure. He’s also a pretty solid passer and there’s a chance he eventually turns himself into an efficient point guard who can be a positive on a good team, but right now he’s Atlantas Big Mistake not just because of his play but due to the play of the guy he was traded for. That’s going to be tough for him and that Atlanta front office to overcome for a long time.

From The Vault

In honor of John Sterling calling this game, here are some Yankee highlights. I always liked Sterling for how silly he’s willing to get. He has one of the best jobs in the world and he knows it. Have a fun Sunday, I know John Sterling will.


For a different perspective, head on over to Peachtree Hoops, our Hawks sister site on SB Nation.