ATLANTA HAWKS (18-16)
at BROOKLYN NETS (12-21)
Tip-off: Monday, 7:35 p.m. ET
Line: Brooklyn -3.5, Total: 197
The slumping Hawks head to Brooklyn on Monday night to take on a Nets team that has won two straight games.
Atlanta lost its third game in four tries on Saturday, falling 91-84 on the road to the Bulls, and dropping the club to 6-11 SU (8-9 ATS) away from home this season. Brooklyn ended the 2013 calendar year by losing six of seven games (SU and ATS), but has started off 2014 with a bang. The Nets first shocked the 12-point favorite Thunder on the road Thursday, and then began a four-game homestand on Saturday by topping the Cavaliers 89-82 on Saturday. They are now 7-9 (SU and ATS) at home this season, but could be missing star PG Deron Williams, who will be a game-time decision because of a sore left ankle. These two teams havenít met since March of 2013 when the Hawks went into Brooklyn and came away with a 105-93 victory. That made them 12-4 SU (11-5 ATS) in the past 16 meetings in this series, including 3-1 (SU and ATS) on the road versus Nets since 2011. Atlanta could add to this series dominance, considering the team is 15-3 ATS (83%) when playing with exactly one day's rest, and 9-1 ATS (90%) when coming off a road loss this season. But Brooklyn is 22-13 ATS (63%) on the heels of a two-game win streak in the past three seasons, and benefits from the fact that the Hawks are just 4-13 ATS (24%) in the past two seasons versus teams who average 48 or less RPG. In addition to Williams' ankle and both teams losing their starting centers (Al Horford and Brook Lopez) due to injuries for the entire season, Hawks SG John Jenkins remains out with a back injury.
Can the Nets stay hot with a third straight victory? For the answer, connect to The Platinum Sheet for all the Expert picks throughout the entire 2012-13 season. The five experts are sizzling on NBA Best Bets since the start of December, going 62% ATS (74-45-1) including 67% ATS (48-24-1) since Dec. 16. StatFox Zach has a huge 71% ATS mark (17-7-1) since Dec. 1 and is currently 57% ATS (28-21-1) on Best Bets for the season. StatFox Dave has an excellent 72% ATS (18-7) Best Bets record since Dec. 1 and is 57% ATS (28-21) on Best Bets for the season. StatFox Scott is 71% ATS (10-4) in Best Bets since Dec. 16, while StatFox Gary is also 71% ATS (10-4) in this same timeframe. Since Dec. 12, StatFox Brian is 63% ATS (10-6).
The Hawks have played good basketball this season, but they have struggled since C Al Horford (18.6 PPG, 8.4 RPG, 1.5 BPG) suffered a season-ending, torn pectoral muscle five games ago. They have shot just 40.8% FG without Horford, and have been outrebounded by 3.6 RPG during these five contests. Atlanta (102.6 PPG, 12th in NBA) will need to continue to move the ball around (NBA-best 25.5 APG) if it is going to remain third in the Eastern Conference standings. PF Paul Millsap (17.7 PPG, 8.8 RPG, 1.6 SPG) will be the most important player for Atlanta in this game, as he will be going against a small Nets frontcourt that is also missing its starting center, Brook Lopez. Millsap is averaging 22.4 PPG, 11.6 RPG and 2.0 BPG in the five games without Horford and could feast on the Nets small-ball lineup that features 6-foot-7 Paul Pierce at power forward. Hawks PG Jeff Teague (16.9 PPG, 8.1 APG, 1.4 SPG) has shot poorly this season (42.5% FG, 27.5% threes), but his main focus in this game will be to keep Brooklyn point guard Deron Williams from taking over the game. SG Kyle Korver (12.3 PPG, 47% threes, 4.1 RPG) has been ice-cold in five games without Horford, averaging a mere 8.6 PPG on 37% FG (29% threes) during this stretch. He and SG Louis Williams (10.2 PPG, 36% threes, 3.0 APG), who has just 4.3 PPG on 22% FG (2-for-11 threes) in his past three games, must both shoot well to beat the red-hot Nets on Monday.
Brooklyn won a huge game at Oklahoma City last Thursday, by forcing 21 turnovers, and then held Cleveland to 36.7% FG at home two days later. The Nets don't always play like this though, as they are below average in several major categories, ranking 21st in the NBA in scoring (96.5 PPG) and 20th in scoring defense (101.5 PPG). But their real weakness is on the glass where they pull down only 39.6 RPG (28th in league). With Brook Lopez out, SF Paul Pierce (12.9 PPG, 4.9 RPG, 3.0 APG) has seen a lot of time at power forward over the last two games, and has responded to the move with 17.5 PPG in 34.0 MPG. He has always loved facing the Hawks in his career, averaging 22.4 PPG (46% FG), 6.4 RPG and 3.9 APG in 47 games against them. PG Deron Williams (13.6 PPG, 42% threes, 6.9 APG), has played outstanding basketball during the two-game win streak, averaging 25.0 PPG on 17-of-27 FG (63%) and 5.0 APG. He was absolutely huge in the Brooklyn win over Oklahoma City with six three-pointers on the offensive end and five steals on the defensive end, and the Nets will struggle badly if he is unable to play on Monday. PF Kevin Garnett (6.4 PPG, 6.9 RPG), who sat out Saturdayís game against Cleveland, has really struggled for the Nets. He is averaging just 2.7 PPG (3-for-14 FG) and 5.7 RPG in 21.3 MPG in his past three contests. He will certainly need to show up in this one, as Paul Millsap could single-handedly dominate the glass. SG Joe Johnson (14.9 PPG, 38% threes, 3.2 RPG) has not scored in double-figures in any of his past five games, averaging just 7.0 PPG on 30% FG and 17% threes (4-for-23). However, Johnson did hit a buzzer beater against the Thunder, and could be due for a big performance on Monday, as he will have a size mismatch with Kyle Korver or Lou Williams guarding him all game.