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Nets look to win the season series vs. Hawks

Memphis Grizzlies v Atlanta Hawks Photo by Adam Hagy/NBAE via Getty Images

It doesn’t matter how it’s done, as long as it’s done. Things were looking bleak for the Brooklyn Nets on Wednesday night, but they made it happen. They went on a huge fourth quarter run to thwart off disaster and beat the Houston Rockets. The W gave them a 1.5 game lead (2.5 game including the tiebreaker) over the slumping Miami Heat.

The opponent tonight is looking to put a streak. It's been an up and down season for the Atlanta Hawks as they try to figure out where they're going as a franchise. They had a good night on Wednesday as they held on to beat the Cleveland Cavaliers in front of the hometown faithful.

Where to follow the game

YES Network on TV. WFAN on radio. Tip after 7:30 PM.


No Ben Simmons. Day’Ron Sharpe is probable with a left ankle sprain.

Jalen Johnson is questionable with a mild left hamstring strain and mild left groin strain. De’Andre Hunter is questionable with left knee swelling.

The game

Brooklyn took game one in December while Atlanta captured game two in February. This is the last regular season meeting between these two teams.

The playoffs are here in the G-League and the Long Island Nets will be taking on the Cleveland Charge today at noon. David Duke Jr and Dru Smith are with the LI Nets and hope to put on a show for the folks at Nassau Coliseum.

This sure is something

Oh my.

Last time we saw the Hawks, this happened:

The numbers have been there for Trae Young, but the criticisms have remained the same. He gets picked on when playing defense and there are still questions as to how far you can go with him being the focal point of the offense. His shooting numbers are down across the board, but he’s still someone that can go off and have an incredible game.

Since Quin Snyder’s debut as Hawks coach on February 28, Atlanta is 26th in 3-point attempts and 16th in efficiency. In that same time frame, the Nets are sixth in attempts and 20th in efficiency. Cam Johnson will play a huge part in this game. Throughout his tenure in Brooklyn, CJ has struggled with his shot from deep. However, he’s starting to heat up. He’s shot 50 percent from three in the past three games, and his success makes the Nets offense a million times more dynamic. They’re going to need Johnson to keep it up

Someone to keep an eye on going forward will be Onyeka Okongwu. He stepped up in Clint Capela’s absence earlier this season and has been a solid bench player throughout the year. Over at Peachtree Hoops, Graham Chapple wrote about the big guy and said:

“Okongwu’s ability to catch, to put pressure on the defense on his slips (which he has gotten so much better at positioning himself), his improved strength to absorb more contact inside, his touch inside...he is really making the impact the Hawks surely envisioned when they selected him sixth overall back in 2020.”

He’s someone Quin Snyder should look to keep around in the future.

For the Nets, that battle on the inside will determine this one. The Rockets won the rebounding battle by ten, and it almost cost the Nets dearly. The team simply has to be better on the boards if they want to do anything in the postseason. Now’s as good a time as any to correct a bad trend.

Player to Watch: DeJounte Murray

The transition to a new team has been a bit of a rocky one for DJM. The team hasn’t taken the leap they expected, and while his numbers are decent enough, it speaks to his adjusting role. His free throw rate is at the lowest of his career and he’s at a career low on shots inside of three feet. He’s shooting a respectable 34.9 percent from three point range, but his game is at its best when he’s attacking the basket and going downhill. As the Hawks figure out how to build their future, getting a good feel for Murray’s role and how to best utilize him will be high on the to-do list.

Mikal Bridges is up for a pretty cool award. On Thursday, he was announced as one of the 12 finalists for the Teammate of the Year award. Bridges has been the model star on and off the court as the team transitions into a new era. He put together another great game on Wednesday as his 27/6/6 helped seal the win for Brooklyn. As I’ve written before, Bridges is a wonderful cutter and the Hawks allow the third most shots inside the restricted area in the league this season. Look for Bridges and the Nets to attack and persist their way into the paint at every opportunity.

From the Vault

It’s Final Four weekend, and all eyes will be on Aliyah Boston and the University of South Carolina as they push for an undefeated season. Caitlin Clark and the Iowa Hawkeyes are standing in the way as they try to prevent history. The last time to go undefeated were the 2015-2016 Connecticut Huskies, and they'll be led by a legend who'll be gracing the Barclays Center hardwood this spring

More reading: Peachtree Hoops