Atlanta Hawks: Nets come in with momentum but not much rest

Dec 8, 2021; Houston, Texas, USA; Brooklyn Nets forward Kevin Durant (7) warms up before the game against the Houston Rockets at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 8, 2021; Houston, Texas, USA; Brooklyn Nets forward Kevin Durant (7) warms up before the game against the Houston Rockets at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports /

The Atlanta Hawks (13-12) are catching the Brooklyn Nets at an interesting time for both teams. Their second meeting of the season will take place at State Farm Arena. The Hawks lost the first 117-108 in Brooklyn. They still have a winning record on their home court at 8-4. But they have lost their last three games in their home gym.

There has also been good news on the injury front as Cam Reddish was listed as probable for the contest while Onyeka Okongwu scored 10 points and hauled in 15 boards in 24 minutes of action with the College Park Skyhawks.

They are still awaiting the returns of Bogdan Bogdanovic and De’Andre Hunter.

For Brooklyn, it isn’t as rosy of an outlook. With no resolution to  Kyrie Irving’s situation, the Nets lost sharpshooter Joe Harris indefinitely following ankle surgery.

The Atlanta Hawks are welcoming a red-hot but, perhaps, dog-tired Nets team

What the Nets do have on their side is momentum. Owners of the best record in the Eastern Conference at 17-8, they’ve gone 15-5 since starting the season 2-3. They’ve also won 7-of-11 games since Harris has been out. But there are some valid questions about who they’ve faced in this run.

They lost to Golden State Warriors, Phoenix Suns, a short-handed Chicago Bulls team, and the youthful Houston Rockets with wins over the Cleveland Cavaliers, Orlando Magic, Boston Celtics, and New York Knicks.

Brooklyn also took down the Dallas Mavericks and Minnesota Timberwolves.

However, the Hawks have ranked third in scoring and ninth in scoring defense in that same time frame.

They’re also 7-3 in second in the NBA in three-point efficiency during that span as they’ve found their second wind. The Hawks will also be coming off of a valuable couple of days’ rest; something that has become somewhat foreign to the Nets two remaining stars in Kevin Durant and James Harden.

After playing the entire final frame of their game on Tuesday, Durant spoke on growing concern over the heavy minutes he is logging.

"“I know people may be concerned about my minutes and I got injured before and all this extra s–t. But we’ll figure that out if I get there,” Durant said. “Right now I want to play basketball.” – via Brian Lewis/New York Post"

Harden played over 39 minutes the following night against the Houston Rockets while Durant sat out.

Durant is currently seventh in the NBA in minutes as both he and Harden are over 36 per game. But both are averaging over 38 minutes per game with Harris out. Patty Mills is the only other Nets player seeing over 30 minutes per contest in that time.

The Hawks also have two players averaging over 30 minutes per outing this season with one more just a hair below.

However, during this time the Nets have been without Harris, Atlanta has had four players seeing 30-plus minutes per night. However, Trae Young leads the team at just over 34 minutes per and less than a full minute more than Mills. The Hawks have some of the best depth in the Association and that has shown as they’ve dealt with myriad injuries.

The task at hand is daunting. Brooklyn is the current favorite to make it out of the East, a goal the Hawks entered the season with and, surely, still have in mind.

Beating the Nets on Friday won’t win any rings.

It will give them more confidence as the beginning of a stretch that will see them face just two opponents who made the playoffs last season; the Nets and the also-wounded Denver Nuggets,

Next. Gallinari, Williams’ veteran leadership critical going forward. dark

This could be a good chance to make up some ground they lost with their rough patch early in November.