Mike Bell With A NBA Playoffs Preview: Hawks vs Nets... Yeah, We Got This!
We were all hoping Brooklyn would tap out Wednesday night and miss the playoffs. The Hawks would grab their lottery ping pong balls in the very slim chance of maybe stealing a top 10 pick. It would have been fitting since Joe Johnson (aka The Hamburgler) stole money from Atlanta before Danny Ferry hustled Brooklyn into taking over his ridiculous max contract. The swapped 2015 pick was the final element of that trade.
Some Hawks fans think the Nets are a much better match up than the Pacers would have been, I say it was a push. It would've been cool to get some payback from last year's first round loss to Indiana. Sure Paul George is back from his knee injury, but they still have Mr. Softy Roy Hibbert in the middle. I would have liked the reversal of fortune angle as last years 8 seed Hawks became a 1 seed just one season later...
The Hawks swept Brooklyn 4-zip this year. The Hawks owned Brooklyn. I guess the only concern would be, can one NBA team beat another team 8 times in one year?
The Hawks will miss Thabo Sefolosha's great defense, but not in this series. He and DeMarre Carroll would have worked as a tandem on the Raptors DeMar DeRozan or LeBron James down the road. But against the Nets , in the first round I think Thabo's alleged NYPD induced injury wont matter.
Maybe we shouldn't sweat the first round at all...
Here's a telling stat from CBS Sports Zach Harper... 2.63. That's the Hawks' assist-to-turnover ratio in their four games against the Nets this season. To put it in perspective, this is the highest assist-to-turnover ratio the Hawks have against any team in the NBA, except for their two games against the Kings. The Clippers lead the league at 2.01 and the Hawks are third at 1.81. When the Hawks play the Nets, they just have the defense at their mercy. Their 31.5 assisted field goals per game against the Nets is almost even with how many shots (37.3) the Nets make, period.
You know me and math are a bad combo so here's more numbers from Zach Harper... Overall on the season, the Hawks outscored the Nets by 18.5 points per 100 possessions. Yes, that was thrown out of whack by that 131-99 drubbing, but the Hawks still controlled the season series outside of that.
Do you believe that a team can be humiliated into finding another gear in the playoffs? Because Paul Pierce just gave some tough love... uh I mean tough hate to the Nets...
In an interview with ESPN's Jackie MacMullan Paul Pierce went all in on his former team... "I'm much happier,'' he said. "It was a tough situation (in Brooklyn) last year. Horrible, really. "It was just the guys' attitudes there. It wasn't like we were surrounded by a bunch of young guys. They were vets who didn't want to play and didn't want to practice. I was looking around saying, 'What's this?' Kevin (Garnett) and I had to pick them up every day in practice. "If me and Kevin weren't there, that team would have folded up. That team would have packed it in. We kept them going each and every day.''
The player that puzzled him the most, said Pierce, was point guard Deron Williams. "Before I got there, I looked at Deron as an MVP candidate,'' Pierce said. "But I felt once we got there, that's not what he wanted to be. He just didn't want that. "I think a lot of the pressure got to him sometimes. This was his first time in the national spotlight. The media in Utah is not the same as the media in New York, so that can wear on some people. I think it really affected him.'' Pierce said veteran Joe Johnson was an affable professional but also a reluctant leader. "Joe is quiet,'' Pierce noted. "He doesn't want much attention. He doesn't say much.
"There's a lot of secondary guys on that team. KG and I went there looking at them as the main guys who would push us, because we were advancing in years. But we ended up doing all the pushing.''
Yikes! The one guys who missed the slings and arrows of Pierce was Brook Lopez, I'm sure he'll get 20 one night but the overall inconsistency of his team and their half court offense will not pose a threat to the Hawks.
You'd like Paul Millsap to be 100%, his right shoulder strain is still bothering him. Mike Scott has a back bruise. But Jeff Teague and Al Horford should be able to set the tone against the Nets. Korver bombs some 3's and the bench does it's thing.
When it comes to the playoffs it's never easy as an Atlanta fan. But this series should be as easy as it gets this post season. As easy as rolling into Brooklyn grabbing a porterhouse at Peter Lugers then cabbing over to Juniors for some cheesecake. We get in we get out. Nobody gets hurt... hmmm
just to be safe maybe a curfew isn't a bad idea next week?
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