Preview: Nets look for immediate revenge against Hawks in Atlanta
Brooklyn aims to finish its home and away series vs. Atlanta on a high note before traveling to Mexico.
The Nets (8-14) head to Philips Arena hoping to get the bad taste out of their mouths when they finish their home-and-away series against the Hawks (5-17). Brooklyn appeared to be caught off guard by Atlanta in its 114-102 loss at Barclays Center and want to return the favor on Monday night.
“It’s a good thing,” Rondae Hollis-Jefferson told The New York Post. “We played them [in Brooklyn] and they smacked us in the face. And we go down there and give them a taste of the medicine.”
Here’s the three biggest storylines heading into Monday’s game:
1. Nets need to show Brooklyn grit
We go hard – it’s the Nets’ slogan this year and it embodies head coach Kenny Atkinson’s philosophy well. The team might be young, but it’s willing to grind out every possession and play a high-paced style. For most of the season, that’s been the case for the Nets as they currently are among the top 10 NBA teams in several hustle stats, including screen assists and contested two pointers. On Saturday, coming off of a three-game road trip, the team appeared flat and the Hawks took advantage.
“We came out lackadaisical and we knew coming off of a three-game road trip, this tends to happen and we didn’t do what we were supposed to do,” Carroll said after the loss.
In order to get back on track, Brooklyn needs to get back to the basics. The team relied heavily on the three on Saturday and should look to add some versatility to the offense on Monday.
2. Key matchup: Spencer Dinwiddie vs. Dennis Schroder
Schroder had a terrible performance (17 points on 22 percent shooting) against the Nets in their first matchup of the season in October (Brooklyn won 116-104), but he quickly turned that around in the second to spark the Hawks win. The German isn’t a great shooter, especially in mid-range, so the Nets have to focus on stopping the Hawks guard from getting to the basket.
Brooklyn used Dinwiddie to defend Schroder in spells, but in order to stop him (and essentially the Hawks), the team needs to double him when he gets into the paint. The 24-year-old point guard isn’t the best playmaker (despite gaudy stats) and the rebuilding Hawks don’t have a consistent second option on offense.
3. Turnovers must stop
The Nets committed 19 turnovers and allowed the Hawks to have 12 steals, which is a “recipe for disaster” as Atkinson called it on Saturday. Brooklyn has to take better care of the ball.
The bench was particularly poor in that aspect, committing 58 percent of the team’s turnovers. The unit continues to impress on scoring (currently second in the NBA), but it can’t allow teams extra possessions by giving away the ball. A turnaround could help the Nets get a crucial win ahead of their trip to Mexico to face the Thunder and Heat.
If Brooklyn manages to win, it would be its fifth road win of the season – a mark it didn’t reach until in March of last season in its 34th away game.
Projected starters: Dinwiddie, Crabbe, Carroll, Hollis-Jefferson, Zeller
Injuries: D'Angelo Russell (left knee surgery) OUT.