Jan 08, 2013; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Brooklyn Nets guard Joe Johnson (7) during the third quarter against the Philadelphia 76ers at the Wells Fargo Center. The Nets defeated the Sixers 109-89. Mandatory Credit: Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Atlanta Hawks vs Brooklyn Nets: Game Preview - Joe Johnson Returns to Atlanta

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Joe Johnson will return to Atlanta in an opponent’s uniform for the first time tonight. He was traded this offseason for DeShawn Stevenson, Anthony Morrow, Johan Petro, Jordan Williams, Jordan Farmar and draft picks.

In seven seasons in Atlanta, Johnson averaged 20.9 points and 5.2 assists per game in 508 games played. In his first season in Atlanta, the team went 26-56 but by the time he left, the Hawks were coming off five straight postseason appearances and three second round appearances.

Joe Johnson was brought here in 2005 through a sign-and-trade that saw Boris Diaw, Raja Bell and two future first round picks go to Phoenix his place. In the 2010 offseason, Joe Johnson was signed to one of the largest contracts in NBA history, worth over $120 million over 6 seasons, taking up a large portion of the salary cap in the process.

Tonight, the reaction will most likely be cheers with a smattering of boos, but all Hawks fans realize how far the team has come in under 8 years. With Joe Johnson leading the way, the Hawks reached heights unseen since the late 90s and many Atlanta Hawks fans were sad to see Johnson go, despite his large contract.

As a team, the Nets are on fire. After firing Avery Johnson, the Nets have won 9 of their last 10 with P.J. Carlisimo at the helm. Deron Williams has taken over, like he did in his Utah days, and brought the Nets back into contention to challenge for the Eastern Conference.

Their rebounding has seen a noticeable uptick in the past 10 games, an area the Hawks have really struggled in recently. The game will be won on the glass, even though the Hawks will be without the services of Josh Smith for tonight. Look for the Hawks to come out with more energy and hang with the Nets.

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Tags: Atlanta Hawks Brooklyn Nets Joe Johnson

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