Network Notebook: NBA Preview…Atlanta at Brooklyn

This will be our eighth and final “series” preview as we crunch the efficiency numbers for the Atlanta Hawks and the Brooklyn Nets. We saved it for last because anything involving the #8 seed in the East should go last! But, we have to admit that the Nets have been more competitive than most expected thus far in this series. Does that mean that top seeded Atlanta really isn’t championship material?

Let’s start with JIM HURLEY’S key indicator stats…then we’ll review the boxscores from both games down in not-so-Hotlanta.

Offensive Efficiency
Atlanta: 106.2 per 100 possessions (ranked #6 in the NBA)
Brooklyn: 101.9 per 100 possessions (ranked #18 in the NBA)

Atlanta became “The Spurs of the East” in terms of gameplan, skill set, ball movement, and often execution. When trying and at full strength, they’d look even better than #6. But, they did slow down in the final weeks of the season. Some took that to be pacing themselves for the playoffs. But, it may have been a sign of fatigue, or just the laws of shooting math regressing. They haven’t looked like the #6 offense yet in this series. Category edge to Atlanta…but they haven’t covered a spread yet.

Defensive Efficiency
Atlanta: 100.7 per 100 possessions (ranked #7 in the NBA)
Brooklyn: 105.0 per 100 possessions (ranked #24 in the NBA)

It’s particularly glaring that Atlanta’s allegedly explosive offense hasn’t looked fantastic vs. the #24 ranked defense. Yes, Brooklyn is better than that when healthy and trying. But, still…there are weak spots that should be exploited. This was supposed to be a couple of blowouts based on the stats and the marketplace. Not happening yet.

Pace Ranking
Atlanta: #15
Brooklyn: #24

Atlanta is right in the middle of the league, which means nothing should phase them. Brooklyn is slow by nature, which suits them well for playoff-style basketball. It could be that Atlanta isn’t very well-suited for halfcourt basketball when they’re treys aren’t falling. The fast bench guys don’t pick up any cheapies in a slow game.

Against the Spread
Atlanta: 50-30-2
Brooklyn: 39-41-2

Wow…FIFTY and thirty for the Hawks! And, that was with a late cool-down and some nights where they just sat all of their best players. There was probably no bigger surprise to the markets this year than Atlanta at full strength. They really were the Spurs of the East during the regular season, particularly against disinterested or otherwise coasting teams. When Kyle Korver was hitting his shots, few teams could even hope to hang with them.

Atlanta 99, Brooklyn 92
Shooting Pct: Brooklyn 46%, Atlanta 43%
Three-Pointers: Brooklyn 5/20, Atlanta 10/30
Free Throws: Brooklyn 15/22, Atlanta 21/22
Rebounds: Brooklyn 47, Atlanta 39
Turnovers: Brooklyn 17, Atlanta 14
Vegas Line: Atlanta by 11, total of 205

Definitely a surprise that Atlanta could only shoot 43% at home against what was supposed to be a soft Brooklyn defense. Note that Atlanta lost rebounding badly, and committed a lot of turnovers too. If Brooklyn had made a couple of extra treys we would have had a nailbiter. Very disappointing opener for anyone expecting really big things from the Hawks.

Atlanta 96, Brooklyn 91
Shooting Pct: Brooklyn 45%, Atlanta 39%
Three-Pointers: Brooklyn 8/26, Atlanta 12/31
Free Throws: Brooklyn 13/18, Atlanta 14/19
Rebounds: Brooklyn 49, Atlanta 41
Turnovers: Brooklyn 16, Atlanta 8
Vegas Line: Atlanta by 9.5, total of 202.5

And then Atlanta fell to 39%! They’re making double digits in treys…but not with a blistering percentage. Rebounds were again an issue, though at least the team trimmed down on turnovers. More missed shots were technically turnovers because the rebounding has been so poor. Atlanta is better than THIS. But, there are real questions now about whether this team can compete with Cleveland in the Eastern brackets. This particularly version of the Hawks could be in serious trouble with the winner of the Washington/Toronto series (currently led by the Wizards). Some teams are built for the regular season. Atlanta is learning playoff basketball on a trial by fire basis.

Saturday’s Vegas Line: Atlanta by 2.5, total of 201

That’s a pretty big drop from 11 and 9.5 after the sight switch. Well, the 11 anyway. Perceptions have changed about these teams. The Over/Under has dropped down to 201 after scoreboard totals of 191 and 187. You get the sense that Atlanta is due for a game where they hit more treys and drive the scoring into the 200’s. But, if THIS is the real playoff Hawks, that total is too high. Interesting challenge for handicappers.

JIM HURLEY will make sure his clients get the very best from Saturday’s Grand Slam. Also on the schedule are Game Three of Memphis/Portland, and Game Fours from both Chicago/Milwaukee and Golden State/New Orleans (plus a full slate of baseball!). You can purchase the final word right here at the website with your credit card. If you have any questions about extended service, call us in the office at 1-800-323-4453 Saturday before the action begins.

More basketball ahead here in the NOTEBOOK…

Sunday: Cleveland at Boston Game Four Preview (Cavs go for the Sweep!)
Monday: Game Four of Memphis/Portland
Tuesday: Game Five of San Antonio/LA Clippers
Wednesday: Game Five of Washington/Toronto, Brooklyn/Atlanta, or Portland/Memphis
Thursday: Game Six Preview of the best remaining matchup
Friday: Game Six Preview of the best remaining matchup
Saturday: Best Game Seven if any series is still in play

It’s wall-to-wall basketball…so GO DUNKING FOR DOLLARS with JIM HURLEY’S NETWORK! He throws the alley-oop…then YOU GET THE MONEY!

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