Hawks lose lottery pick but get better playoff match-up: Nets

Hawks went 4-0 against Joe Johnson and Brooklyn. (AP photo)

Hawks went 4-0 against Joe Johnson and Brooklyn. (AP photo)

The Hawks went 4-0 during the regular season against Joe Johnson and the Brooklyn Nets. (AP photo)

It will be the Hawks vs. Joe Johnson in the playoffs. This seems too perfect.

Many Hawks fans were hoping the team would meet Indiana in the first round of the playoffs. That would’ve meant that Brooklyn would miss the playoffs and their first round draft pick — which is owned by the Hawks via the Johnson trade — would be a lottery pick.

But the odds of the Hawks getting lucky in lottery with a high pick were extremely long. Also, the more important issue really should have been who matched up better for the Hawks, and I believe that’s Brooklyn. The Nets clinched the Eastern Conference’s No. 8 seed Wednesday night with a 101-88 win over Orlando, while Indiana lost to Memphis 95-83, ensuring the Pacers’ elimination.

The first two games of the Hawks-Nets series will be at Philips Arena, Sunday (5:30 p.m.) and next Wednesday (7 p.m.), before switching to Brooklyn next Saturday (3 p.m.) and a week from Monday (TBA).

Here’s why I believe the Hawks match-up better against Brooklyn than Indiana:

• The Hawks went 3-0 against the Pacers in the regular season. But Indiana presented potential problems with its front line, led by David West and Roy Hibbert, and had won six straight prior to the loss to Memphis. Paul George (leg) and George Hill (knee) both missed all three games against the Hawks during the season. Their playoff status would’ve been uncertain after injuries in the Memphis game.

• The Hawks went 4-0 against the Nets. Brooklyn has talent with Johnson, Deron Williams and Brook Lopez but the team has been chronic underachievers for three years and looks like anything but a postseason threat. The Kevin Garnett-Paul Pierce experiment blew up and prompted management to sell off pieces.

If you missed it, Pierce openly questioned the attitude of his former teammates, telling ESPN.com’s Jackie MacMullen:

On the Nets’ attitude: “I’m much happier (in Washington). It was a tough situation (in Brooklyn) last year. Horrible, really. … It was just the guys’ attitudes there. It wasn’t like we were surrounded by a bunch of young guys. They were vets who didn’t want to play and didn’t want to practice. I was looking around saying, ‘What’s this?’ Kevin (Garnett) and I had to pick them up every day in practice. … If me and Kevin weren’t there, that team would have folded up. That team would have packed it in. We kept them going each and every day.”

On Williams: “Before I got there, I looked at Deron as an MVP candidate. But I felt once we got there, that’s not what he wanted to be. He just didn’t want that. … I think a lot of the pressure got to him sometimes. This was his first time in the national spotlight. The media in Utah is not the same as the media in New York, so that can wear on some people. I think it really affected him.”

On Johnson: Pierce said veteran Joe Johnson was an affable professional but also a reluctant leader. “Joe is quiet,” Pierce noted. “He doesn’t want much attention. He doesn’t say much.”

I spoke to Johnson during the Nets’ recent visit to Atlanta. He said he understands that the Hawks’ turnaround began when the team traded him, and he’s OK with that. Click here for more.

So how do you feel about this match-up?

I’ll have more in a Hawks’ playoff preview in a fully column Thursday in MyAJC.com.

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Reader Comments 0

19 comments
Wilbo
Wilbo

I seriously doubt they will, but if the Squawky Hawkies choke away Round 1, I'll laugh my bazoopas off.

GloryBetweenTheHedges
GloryBetweenTheHedges

I think one of the problems is some of us are still in the perception that we are still the Atlanta Hawks and look at us as a 45 win team instead of a 60 win. You don't accidentally win 60 games in a season. I have full confidence that we are at the very least going to play a entertaining 7 game eastern conference finals series which would be fine with me. We are ahead of schedule. I know we are only going to get better from here. You got to pay your dues before you win the finals.

stogiefogey
stogiefogey

@GloryBetweenTheHedges Anyone who watched Monday night's Knicks game with his eyes open could see a character issue with this team.

Sure they didn't need the win but did they have to just carelessly slouch up n' down the court and lose to a much weaker team? And you have wonder, if they'd been honest and announced ahead of time "we're only going to phone it in tonight so don't expect much" how many of those loyal fans would have shown up for the (sold out) game?.

atlfanman
atlfanman

Even at number 16 or 17, the hawks should be able to get someone out of this draft that should be able to help them. However, it is worth noting that out of the last five first round picks, only one, Schroeder, is providing valuable minutes. Jenkins is deep on the bench and the other three are playing for other teams.

Wilbo
Wilbo

Hey, Monkey Meat, why does Brat Lee always have about 12 times as many responses as you do?


Shouldn't that tell you something?

Wilbo
Wilbo

As usual, Shooltsee Poo is asking the wrong question...


It shouldn't be who is the best 1st round match-up, it should be when - 1st, round, 2nd round, 3rd... - will the Hawks come unglued and choke like dogs? It's gonna happen, this IS Atlanta, ya know...


They'll probably get thru the first round, but this IS Atlanta, ya know.....

MikeS777
MikeS777

To me basically the Nets are what their record shows...an underachieving team that is in the playoffs for the simple reason Indiana drew @Memphis in the final game.  Brooklyn had a chance to clinch this over the past week and a half, but got blown out badly in games vs the Hawks, Bulls, and Bucks.

Indiana and Boston are playing better basketball than their record shows.  It took Indiana a long time to adjust to losing Paul George for most of the year.  Indiana is also full of playoff veterans who have playoff success.  Boston remade their roster, embraced a team philosophy similar to the Hawks, and have been one of the best teams in the East over the past two months.

This is the best draw the Hawks could hope for.  I don't see them losing this one.

afx
afx

@MikeS777  so you advise me to ignore that after all star break Brooklyn has second best record in the East after Cleveland, because you still think Boston and Indiana better. I am not so smart, so I let you ignore my predictions Cleveland will sweep Boston, ATL will struggle to win in 6 or 7. hope last laugh yours.

ATLBrown
ATLBrown

Hawks could easily beat the Nets or Pacers in a 7-game series.  Would much rather had the lottery pick.  But nevertheless, onwards and upwards.  Let's take care of the Nets and get to the real matchup against Raptors or Wiz.  Go Hawks!

BeastOPS
BeastOPS

@ATLBrown The 'lottery' pick wouldn't have been much higher than the 15th pick the Hawks SHOULD receive by beating the Nets.

TreeRollins
TreeRollins

I believe we will beat the Nets but not as easily as many think. After that against teams like Toronto, I am very nervous. This whole NYC incident could not have come at a worse time. It continues to remind me of the old Eugene Robinson Super Bowl fiasco.

crackbaby
crackbaby

Agree that the Nets are a better matchup than Indy but it is of no significance.  Hawks will play 100% now that the games mean something again.  Hawks in 5?


It will get nasty as the Nets near elimination.  Who is the enforcer on this team - Pero?  Need to finish this series with all the guys healthy

CowbellHell
CowbellHell

Sorry afx but we will dominate this sorry bunch of losers...Brooklyn will be lucky to take a game off of us!


GO HAWKS

afx
afx

completely disagree. last year with best George and ATL without AH mediocre Hawks get #1 to seven games. this year George is no factor after devastating injury and Indiana is pitiful. contrary Johnston problem with matchup against Carroll because he is stronger and taller, here we going miss Sefolosha badly, same think I noticed in matchup back ups PG Shroder against Jack. Jack much stronger and taller, even post up sometimes with good results, no need to remind that Lopez capable for 27 PTS 20 REB on ATL because of big high advantage and soft touch. we OK with Teague against Williams, but motivated Brooklyn all star PG also could be problem on Teague bad night. o and almost forgot about Young and Bogdanovic. he got 28 PTS yesterday and single handed tortured ATL for 19 PTS in April 4 game. this is not  walk in the park series. I hope wrong this time and Schultz wright but doubt.   

bpgt
bpgt

Perfect matchup and we get to heckle the zombie JJ.  The fans should love this.  There needs to be a chant every time Joe touches the ball. 

merbertmoover
merbertmoover

Hawks will play better now that it's all on the line.  Coach Bud will bring out the best in them

DarlaLewis
DarlaLewis

I think if they  go into with the attitude that even though they have had some success, their not going to underestimate them. Then they should win this series. The Hawks have to have a good shooting percentage throughout the playoffs.