Top 10 Hawks Matchups: #5. Hawks Take on Brooklyn in London
The Brooklyn Nets will not make a trip to the Highlight Factory this season because the lone “home” game for the Hawks against them will take place in London on Jan. 16. The Nets had an active summer, trading for Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce, as well as signing Andrei Kirilenko in free agency and have taken their payroll to over $100 million in an effort to become a championship contender. The importance of this game for position in the Eastern Conference playoff race and the rarity of playing overseas lands this matchup number five on our countdown.
Brooklyn’s biggest offseason move was their blockbuster trade with the Boston Celtics, where the Nets sent Kris Humphries, Gerald Wallace, Keith Bogans, MarShon Brooks, Kris Joseph and future draft picks to Boston for Pierce, Garnett, Jason Terry and D.J. White. With the additions of Pierce and Garnett to a roster that already had Deron Williams, Joe Johnson and Brook Lopez , the Nets have more star power than most any team in the league.
The Nets also added Kirilenko and Shaun Livingston in free agency and drafted Mason Plumlee to provide some much needed depth behind their aging lineup. This added depth will be vital to the Nets having season-long success, as they will need to monitor minutes for their aging stars to keep them healthy. Should the Nets roster remain healthy this season, they will often have five legitimate scoring options on the court and will be able to space the floor extremely well. The biggest offensive question for the Nets will be whether they can move the ball enough to take advantage of their numerous options and spacing.
With Jason Kidd taking over as head coach, one would expect the former point guard to emphasize ball movement. However, with ball-dominant players like Johnson and Pierce, Brooklyn will have a difficult time avoiding the temptation to run a lot of isolation sets. Last season, the Nets ran isolation 13.71% of the time, per Synergy Sports, and were fourth in the league at 0.87 PPP (points per possession) in isolation. How Kidd and his staff design their offense will be very interesting to watch this season as they will need to be creative to get all of their potential weapons involved.
The Nets and Hawks split last year’s season series, and the two teams will meet just three times this season. With just three games against the Nets, the Hawks will look to the London game as an opportunity to make a statement not just in front of a national TV audience, but on an international stage.
Previously in the Top 10 countdown:
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