Brooklyn Nets vs Atlanta Hawks 3/8/17
The Brooklyn Nets ride into Atlanta in the wake of one of their best games all season after taking down the Memphis Grizzlies in Memphis. Jeremy Lin played fourth quarter hero, Sean Kilpatrick scored 23 points with only five field goal attempts, and the defense clamped down when it mattered most in the fourth quarter to secure the win. Atlanta has not been so fortunate.
The Hawks are in the middle of the three game losing streak and facing some controversy after starting point guard Dennis Schroder got into a verbal spat with Dwight Howard during a game that led to a wide open three pointer for the Golden State Warriors. Head coach Mike Budenholtzer benched Schroder for the remainder of the game and the Hawks went on to drop their third straight game. There is no confirmation if the punishment will carry over into this game but regardless of if he plays or not, things are not going so smooth right now for the Hawks.
If Brooklyn wants to build on the momentum of last game and sneak away with a win they need to do three things: put the ball in Lin’s hands, score points off the bench, and defend the perimeter.
Lin’s fourth quarter heroics were needed largely in part because of how ineffective he was in the first three quarters. For most of the first half Lin giving it up to the likes of Randy Foye or Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and letting them either try to score or run the offense through their action. The ball would only return to Lin in the form of a hurried shot attempt or a bad look at the basket. It wasn’t until the fourth quarter that he started looking for his own shot and setting himself up that things started to open up.
Good things happen when the ball is in his hands, so the Nets need to let him do his thing tonight. If something isn’t there after the first few options, reset and get the ball back into Lin’s hands instead of forcing it to Brook in the post or letting Hollis-Jefferson jack up a contested jumper. This should eliminate some turnovers and also help get guys like Brook and Trevor Booker involved.
Brooklyn’s bench unit has been on a tear since the All-Star break, topping 50 points five of six times. Whether it is Sean Kilpatrick, Trevor Booker, Spencer Dinwiddie, or Quincy Acy; this bench unit brings it. Atlanta has a lot of lanky utility players that can do a little bit of everything, especially on their bench. Brooklyn will have to get a big performance from a couple of these players if they want to upset Atlanta.
Lastly, the Nets need to focus on defending the perimeter. Atlanta not only has a lot of players that thrive on the perimeter but also their entire offense begins on the perimeter. By playing tight on the wings and guards, they can prevent three pointers and allowing entry passes into the post. The only downside to this is Atlanta has Howard and Millsap, meaning if they get that entry pass in they will probably finish with ease.
Howard isn’t very skilled but will thrive against weak interior defenders, so pretty much anyone but Brook. Millsap, on the other hand, is one of the most skilled power forwards in basketball. He features an inside-outside game that can only be described as beautiful. He is extremely skilled and aggressive on the low block but he also has range out past the three point line and good enough handles to be a threat while driving. Hollis-Jefferson will have his hands full tonight for sure.