KD Closes out the Hawks in the ATL

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Updated: December 12, 2021
durant

Pre-Game Hype

The Brooklyn Nets came into Atlanta on the back of a double-digit loss in Houston with KD out of the lineup. In collecting the L against his old team, Harden turned the ball over 8 times and was 4 for 16 from the floor. The question everyone has been asking is what type of James will Durant have down the stretch of the season and more importantly in the playoffs? Although the Hawks have a been 500 ball club early in the season, their clout from their appearance in last year’s Eastern Conference Finals still gives them cache around the league as a dark horse contender.

Atlanta 

Atlanta has dealt with a variety of injuries and still has their two-way 6’8” wing, De’Andre Hunter, out with a wrist problem and Bogdanovic out with an ankle sprain. With Cam Reddish in and out of the lineup with a non-Covid illness, and “TLC” Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot in the starting lineup they appear to be currently lacking firepower. Luwawu-Cabarrot scored a total of zero points in the 31 minutes including a botched 1-footer which sealed the W for Brooklyn. In Nate McMillan’s defense, Cam Reddish went 0-6 from the field in his 17 minutes off the bench. Last year Atlanta had most of their playoff success without these 3 players contributing as they were out with injury, but with the new rule changes limiting the trickery of Trae Young and his offensive attack, the Hawks have had a slow start to the season. Trae put up 31 for the game yet in crunch time looked limited by what was around him.

Their backcourt in Capela and Collins looks solid, however, their current wing rotation is troubling considering it is well known that Trae needs to be protected as a defensive liability. At the beginning of the season, the question was if they simply had “too many cooks in the kitchen” and if they should look to make a trade to simplify the roster. A quarter way through the season though, they may look to package one of their 3 wings with picks since Hunter and Reddish will need to get paid soon and it is hard to justify paying them both since they have never been healthy together for long stretches of time. The only problem is, the 3 names currently on the public trade block are all bigs in Wood, Turner, and Sabonis, the one area Atlanta is already stocked in.

Brooklyn

The Nets got the win in Atlanta but it looked more like the Hawks shot themselves in the foot rather than the bash brothers of Brooklyn handling business. James Harden had another high turnover game with 6 giveaways, many of which were unforced. He has yet to find his jumper going 0-5 from the perimeter but was efficient scoring at the rim finishing amongst the trees. Durant scored an efficient 31 points going 12-22 from the field but again played an excessive 38 minutes to solidify the late-game win. But for a team that looked to have one of the better offseasons this year is currently starting DeAndre’ Bembre and has a closing lineup with James Johnson. They also seem to be heavily dependent on recently retired and resurrected LaMarcus Aldridge who monopolized the majority of the minutes at the 5 for the first half and was replaced with Nick Clackson for the 2nd.

However, despite the narratives around the Nets and the eye test saying they are not one of the top teams in the league, their record says otherwise. No Kyrie and their best 3-point sniper in Joe Harris sidelined, and they currently stand at the top of the East with an impressive 18-8. If not for the miraculous starts to the season by the Suns and the Warriors, we may be talking about the Nets and Durant a lot differently. 

All that said, the lack of hype around Brooklyn probably has to do with how dominating they looked at times last year when they had the 3-headed monster putting up ungodly numbers at historic rates. They were small samples, yet the thought was when the 3 scorers would finally lock arms in the playoffs, they would be immortal. However, with Kyrie out indefinitely, this team looks more than beatable and if Atlanta was healthier they probably would’ve last night. It is an interesting narrative, because on one side when one hears the podcasts it sounds like the Nets are struggling and then you look at the standings. Maybe the thing is, the West and East are not as equal as we were brought to believe in the offseason…

 

 

 

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