NBA Lightning Strike

It’s gonna be a real quick one tonight, it’s Ukrainian Christmas for gosh-sake. (Orthodoxs are weird.) Only 3 games on tonight, probably due to the NCAAF National Championship game tonight.
Atlanta (18-16) at Brooklyn (12-21) – 7:30pm
Interesting matchup as one of the season’s biggest surprises heads to the city that never sleeps to battle one of the league’s biggest dissappointments. Atlanta has lost its All-Star center Al Horford but not to be out-done, Brooklyn lost its own all-star center in Brook Lopez as well. Atlanta is stil battling for the East’s 3rd seed while Brooklyn is still trying to crawl its way to a playoff spot in a terrible Eastern conference. For the Hawks, replacing Horford has been a challenge. Veteran Paul Millsap has been trying to fill the void, along with the young Mike Scott and Elton Brand, but it may not be enough, especially on the boards, where the Hawks are getting beaten up, giving up 20 offensive rebounds last game. The Nets have found their source since Lopez went down, as one of the game’s best is returning to form. Deron Williams is finally finding his stroke, helping Joe Johnson and the Nets other superstars. The other positive is that Kevin Garnett is capable of playing the 5, something that Millsap and Brand aren’t as accustom to for Atlanta. So while the Hawks look to hold on with the lose of Horford, the Nets are looking to go on a run by finally getting the production out of Williams that should have been there all season.
Horford vs Lopez
Key Matchup
Deron Williams against Jeff Teague when the Hawks have the ball.
Teague has improved his play in all areas. He is lightning quick off the dribble and can devaste a defense in the pick and roll and the fast break. But the loss of Horford has hurt his offensive game (duh). For him to rise to the status of elite, Teague needs to put this team on his back. This will open up space for sharpshooter Kyle Korver and Elton Brand down low. Williams is one of the game’s best though and Kevin Garnett still stalks the paint so look for Teague to have some issues.
Teague vs Williams
Paul Pierce against DeMarre Carroll
Yes, Paul Pierce is playing for the Nets. Yes, he is struggling. And yes, who is DeMarre Carroll? The 4th year guard out of Missouri has some potential but this is the kind of matchup that could get Pierce back on track.
paul pierce
Nets over Hawks – 108 to 98
The Hawks aren’t deep enough to sustain the loss of Horford. The Nets still have a strong starting 5 plus Jason Terry, Andrei Kirilenko, Andray Blatche, and Reggie Evans to provide help from the bench. Too much for the Hawks to keep up with as the Nets continue to surge.

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