Winning is fun and every win in a streak is a good win, whether a blowout or buzzer beater. And in their nine-game streak, the Brooklyn Nets have had both. The Nets win over Cleveland Monday was somewhere in the middle, a tight game but one that ended convincingly.
On Wednesday night, the Nets will try to win their 10th straight which would give this team the fourth longest streak in franchise history. Only an 11-game streak forty years ago and two 14-game streaks in the Lawrence Frank era would be longer. (Jacque Vaughn was back-up point guard on one of them.)
The Hawks are a disappointing 17-17 and on Tuesday night, they lost by 15 to the Pacers in Indianapolis so Wednesday’s game will be the back end of a back-to-back. The Nets beat the Hawks by four back on December 9.
Where to follow the game
YES on TV, WFAN on radio. Game starts shortly after 7:30 p.m. ET.
Joe Harris out with left knee soreness. He didn’t travel with the team to Atlanta but in theory could join the club for the New Year’s Eve game in Charlotte. Seth Curry, who’s been battling a non-COVID illness, is probable. That’s it but with what sounds like the flu making its way through the Nets locker room, you never know.
Trae Young left Tuesday’s loss to the Indiana Pacers with a calf injury and didn’t return. No definitive word on whether he’s going to be available on Wednesday. Young sustained the injury late in the fourth quarter on a drive to the basket. He planted his left foot and came up in pain afterward. He limped to the sideline and eventually left for the locker room.
Asked if he would be able to play against the Nets, Young said postgame, “Hopefully. I don’t know. We’ll see.”
DeAndre Hunter (hip) is already out while two other Hawks missed the entirety of the Pacers game: Jarrett Culver (non-COVID illness) and Clint Capela (calf). Their status for Wednesday is uncertain.
This was supposed to be the Hawks year but so far, not so good. They’re at .500 after the Pacers loss and in ninth in the East. That’s play-in territory. Things just haven’t meshed for the Atlantans. They are middling, mediocre and occasionally have been at issue with their head coach.
Tuesday’s game vs. the Pacers was kind of typical. They got behind early and despite some valiant attempts, never quite made it over the hump, then collapsed in the fourth quarter. The Hawks had gotten to within six early in the quarter, but the Pacers went on a 17-3 run. With 5:54 left, knowing he had another game in 24 hours and an hour and a half flight home, Nate McMillan cleared his bench. Knowing his star was in the locker room getting treatment probably factored in to his thinking as well.
You want examples of where the Hawks stand in consistency?
- In scoring they’re 13th in the NBA at 114.6
- In shooting percentage, they’re 19th at 46.7%
- In 3-point shooting percentage, they’re 27th at 33.4%
- In defense, they’re 20th at 115.3.
- In rebounding, they’re 16th at 51.0
- In assists, they’re 16th at 24.1.
In other words, they’re all over the lot, middling and in need of some juice which a win over the league’s hottest team could supply. One number to take account of if you’re a Nets fan: they are 11-6 at the State Farm Arena.
For Brooklyn, it’s another game where they hope their “Big Three” can click. Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving are scoring at a staggering clip during the streak, averaging a cool 60 points between them. Ben Simmons has been supplying the defense, but surprisingly, Simmons has been no slouch on offense despite his low scoring numbers. He has more than made up for it with the rest of his game.
Coming into Wednesday’s game, as Brian Lewis reports, Simmons has the team’s best net rating (+21.7) and defensive rating (106.6), as well as even the top offensive rating (127.9) among the regular rotation players. In fact...
Time will tell if Ben Simmons' health holds up, but he had NBA's highest +/- and NetRtg in December (out of anyone who played real minutes)— Ben Detrick (@bdetrick) December 28, 2022
Ironically, top two in +/- for the month:
1) Simmons +11.9
2) Harden +10.5
Meanwhile, everyone will be watching to see if T.J. Warren can replicate his 23-point effort vs. the Pacers. It was the first time Warren had reached the 20-point level in exactly two years. He went down with a foot injury in the next game back in 2020 and missed two years of play.
Player to Watch
With Atlanta’s roster thinned out, the Hawks will have to rely more heavily on John Collins. The 6’10” forward, a favorite insertion in Nets fan trade machine exercises, played his best game of the season after returning from a left ankle sprain a week ago. He scored a season-high 26 points and had 10 rebounds in the Hawks’ loss to Indiana.
“We want John to shoot the ball,” Atlanta coach Nate McMillan said. “He didn’t hesitate. He was looking for his shot. I thought he was aggressive on the offensive end of the floor. He had to play a lot more 5 and we got him involved by setting screens and (finding) him in those pick-and-rolls.”
From the Vault
It was last April and the Nets were battling for a playoff spot when Kevin Durant popped a career-high 55 points. The Nets lost but Brooklyn clinched a place in the play-in that night.
For more reading, go to our SB Nation sister site, Peachtree Hoops.
- Brooklyn Nets Game Notes - Brooklyn Nets
- Atlanta Hawks Game Notes - Atlanta Hawks
- Nets ride 9-game win streak into matchup with Hawks - STATS
- Nets Cut the Drama and Rekindle Championship Hopes - Scott Cacciola - New York Times
- Nets’ Ben Simmons playing at high level during win streak: ‘Being himself’ - Brian Lewis - New York Post
- This is why you don’t trade Kevin Durant - Jonathan Lehman - New York Post
- Nets Transformation Unleashing Dynamism Few Teams Can Match - Steve Lichtenstein - Steve’s Newsletter
- TJ Warren is already playing like the biggest steal of the offseason for the scorching-hot Nets - Bryan Kalbrosky - USA Today
- John Collins has strong game, but Hawks can’t keep up with the Pacers - Lauren Williams - Atlanta Journal-Constitution