Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Preview: Hawks at Nets

New Jersey lost 112-96 at Chicago last night to fall a full game behind the Hawks in the crawl race for 8th playoff spot. Devin Harris sprained his ankle late in the first half and did not return. David Waldstein of The Star-Ledger reports this morning that "unless [Harris] makes a remarkable recovery overnight, he probably won't play tonight against Atlanta."

Avoiding the extremely likely prospect of Devin Harris beating Mike Bibby off the dribble whenever he wished to tonight is a significant boon for Atlanta's playoff chances. In his recap of last night's game, Waldstein makes it clear that he does not believe that Harris's injury affected the outcome of last night's game:
"...there is no excuse for this poor showing other than the Nets just didn't show up when they most needed to.

It wasn't the injury, or the absence of Nenad Krstic due to the flu. The Nets' uneven effort and lack of urgency, especially in the brutal 29-8 second quarter, is what cost them the game."
Waldstein's game recap is full of quotes that encourage those anticipating tonight's game from Atlanta's perspective.

Vince Carter:
"It's just disappointing to come out and play like this. We're better than that. We're playing to continue our season and we can't have these type of showings if we want to play in the playoffs.
Lawrence Frank:
"The second quarter was a combination of poor shots, missed turnovers, poor possessions, and then their transition attack wiped us out."

"The fastbreak points are very misleading because that second quarter they were just running the ball down our throats. That second quarter we allowed our missed shots or bad possessions or poor shot selection to affect our transition defense and our defensive will.
Vince Carter scored 22 points, Richard Jefferson 21, and Marcus Williams 16 but no other Net scored more than 8 points and the two who did scored either all (Maurice Ager) or half (Stromile Swift) of their points in garbage time.

Even a cursory glance at New Jersey's season stats shows that in Harris's absence New Jersey lacks a third scoring option. Should Marcus Williams be forced into that role (and unusually heavy minutes for the second night in a row) he may score but his buckets will come at the cost of many shot attempts and frequent turnovers.

Ballhype: hype it up!


Anonymous said...

I'm not feeling like this crucial road game is a sure loss for the Hawks. That's progress of sorts compared to the last 2 months. Woody is still coach though so tonight is by no means a lock.

Anonymous said...

I can't get out of my head the game they played at the Clippers at the end of Januaray. They should beat the Clippers even with everyone healthy, and the Clippers had basically six players, and still pulled it out against Atlanta. Since then, any time I've heard that a team is really hampered by injuries, I've been extremely wary about Atlanta's chances going in.