The Brooklyn Nets are looking to make up ground since the turn of the calendar year while the Atlanta Hawks are just trying to stay above water. The Hawks were having a promising season until the news came down that All-Star center Al Horford was lost for the year. Paul Millsap has done an incredible job as the main offensive focal point, but he has never held this much responsibility before and it might prove to be too much.
The Nets have found a rotation that will get the most out of their undersized team while creating mismatches for their opponents. Their small-ball lineup fits well against the Hawks as they also play with a small lineup. Kevin Garnett should be back in the middle after having a much-needed night off against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Saturday night. He will have to do battle with another well-traveled veteran in Elton Brand.
Every matchup but power forward screams an advantage for the Nets, but this is why they play the game on the court. Millsap should have his way with an undersized Paul Pierce guarding him in the post, while Pierce should be able to abuse Millsap on the perimeter when he has the ball. Jeff Teague is a nice player, but his skill level is nowhere near that of Deron Williams, who has been playing inspired basketball over the last few games.
Joe Johnson might not be the quickest player on the floor, but he should be able to dominate his matchup with Kyle Korver. Shaun Livingston‘s length should be able to lock down DeMarre Carroll from getting anything easy in the paint. Carroll will have a problem containing Livingston, who is still a point guard playing the small forward position.
This should be another victory for the up-and-coming Nets, who are riding a modest two-game winning streak and must continue to build confidence going forward. The road ahead is not an easy one, but if they continue to play with the intensity and resolve that they have shown since 2014, the Nets could be the talk of the NBA.