Eastern Conference Quarterfinals Game #5: Brooklyn Nets at Atlanta Hawks

2015 NBA Playoffs
Eastern Conference Quarterfinals

#8 Brooklyn Nets at #1 Atlanta Hawks
Best of Seven Series Tied 2-2
Game #5 Philips Arena – Atlanta, Georgia
Wednesday, April 29, 2015, 7:05 pm Eastern, TV: TNT
Opening Line: Atlanta -8 1/2
Current Line: Atlanta -9 (-105)
Opening Total: 200
Current Total: 200 1/2
Opening Money Line: Hawks -460 / Nets +365
Current Money Line: Hawks -475 / Nets +380

Brooklyn has the momentum heading into game five after winning two straight against Atlanta.
Brooklyn has the momentum heading into game five after winning two straight against Atlanta.

Going into game three of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals, the Atlanta Hawks had beaten the Brooklyn Nets 7 straight times dating back to last season. The Hawks won the four regular season meetings by an average of 17 points. Atlanta escaped with narrow victories in the first two games of the series at home. However, the Nets evened the series by winning both games at home. This is despite Atlanta winning 60 games and finishing 22 games ahead of the Nets in he standings. Now the series is a best of three with game five in Atlanta Wednesday night.

Atlanta won game one 99-92 and game two 96-91. Brooklyn won game three 91-83 and game four Monday 120-115 in overtime.

In game four, Atlanta took a six point lead into halftime. The Hawks would expand the lead to eight by the end of the third. The Nets rallied in the fourth and forced overtime, led by Deron Williams who scored 16 fourth quarter points. Williams had faced criticism after two awful games, but showed up when the Nets needed him most. Brooklyn took the lead in overtime with 1:25 left on a three pointer by Bojan Bogdanovic. Atlanta had chances to tie it up but the NBA’s best three point shooter Kyle Korver missed three straight in the final seconds. Joe Johnson made two free throws for the Nets to seal the win and tie the series.

All five Nets starters finished in double figure scoring. Williams had 35 points, 7 assists, 5 rebounds and 3 steals. Brook Lopez had 26 points, 10 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals, and 4 blocks. Johnson had 17 points, 6 rebounds and 5 assists. Bogdanovic had 15 points, 6 rebounds and 3 assists. Thaddeus Young had 10 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 blocks. Alan Anderson added 11 points, 4 rebounds and 2 steals off the bench for the Nets.

All five Hawks starters scored in double digits as well. Jeff Teague had 20 points, 11 assists, 4 rebounds and 2 steals. DeMarre Carroll had 20 points, 9 rebounds, and 5 assists. Al Horford scored 17 points and pulled down 7 rebounds. Paul Millsap had 16 points, 12 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 steals and 3 blocks. Korver had 16 points, 11 rebounds, and 3 assists. Dennis Schroder added 10 points, and 3 assists.

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The 60-22 Atlanta Hawks have the second best record in basketball behind the Golden State Warriors who are 67-15. The Hawks won the Southeast Division by 14 games over the Washington Wizards and are the #1 seed in the Eastern Conference by 7 games over the Cleveland Cavaliers. Atlanta is coached by Mike Budenholzer, who was named NBA coach of the year last week. The Hawks had never won 60 games in a season before this year. It was also their first division title since 1994. Atlanta is in the playoffs for the eighth straight season but they have never made it past the second round during that run.

Brooklyn, coached by Lionel Hollins,  finished third in the Atlantic Division 11 games behind Toronto. When Hollins was head coach of the Memphis Grizzlies, the Grizzlies twice came back from 0-2 series deficits to win the series. The Nets tied with the Indiana Pacers for the last playoff spot in the East, but the Nets won the head to head tiebreaker. Brooklyn is in the playoffs for the third straight season.

Brooklyn is 43-41-2 ATS and the total is 38-48 this season. The Nets were 5.5 point underdogs in game #4 and the total was 198. The Hawks are 50-34-2 this season and the total is 42-45.

Atlanta is outscoring teams 103-97 this season. The Hawks are in the top ten in both categories. Atlanta is shooting 46.6% from the field and 38% from 3 point range. The Hawks are #4 or better in both categories. Atlanta is #5 in free throw shooting at 77.5% from the line. Opponents are shooting 43.9% from the field and 34.1% from 3 point range. The Hawks are #7 or better in both categories. Atlanta averages 40.6 rebounds and opponents average 43.6 per game. The Hawks are #28 in rebounding. Atlanta averages 25.7 assists, 13.5 turnovers, 9.1 steals and 4.6 blocks per game.

Paul Millsap averages 16.7 points, 7.8 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 1.8 steals per game. He is probable with a shoulder injury. Jeff Teague averages 15.9 points, 2.5 rebounds, 7 assists, and 1.7 steals per game. Al Horford averages 15.2 points, 7.2 rebounds, 3.2 assists, and 1.3 blocks per game. Horford suffered a dislocated pinky in game one and has his hand taped but is probable. DeMarre Carroll averages 12.6 points, 5.3 rebounds, 1.7 assists and 1.3 steals per game. Kyle Korver averages 12.1 points, 4.1 rebounds and 2.6 assists. Dennis Schroder averages 10 points, 2.1 rebounds and 4.1 assists. Thabo Sefolosha is out for the season with a broken leg.

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Brooklyn is being outscored 101-98 this season. The Nets are shooting 45.3% from the field and 33% from 3 point range. The Nets make 75% of their free throws. Opponents are shooting 45.5% from the field and 38.8% from 3 point range. Brooklyn averages 43.2 rebounds per game and opponents average 44.2 rebounds per game. The Nets average 20.9 assists, 13.4 turnovers, 7 steals and 4.2 blocks per game.

Brook Lopez averages 17.2 points, 7.4 rebounds and 1.7 blocks per game. Joe Johnson averages 14.6 points, 4.8 rebounds and 3.6 assists per game. Johnson was an all-star player for the Hawks until 2012 when he signed with the Nets. Deron Williams averages 13.3 points, 3.3 rebounds, and 6.6 assists per game. Jarrett Jack averages 11.9 points, 3.1 rebounds, and 4.8 assists per game. Mirza Teletovic returned in game two after missing more than two months with blood clots in his lungs. Sergey Karasev is out for the season with a knee injury.

Brooklyn is 7-0 ATS in first round games, 6-0 against Southeast teams, 5-0 overall and against Eastern conference teams, 4-0 after a cover, and against teams with winning records, and 8-2-1 on one day rest. The road team is 10-4 ATS in this series recently. The underdog has covered the last 5 games in this series. The Nets have covered all four games in this series. Brooklyn is 5-1 ATS in their last 6 trips to Atlanta.

Atlanta is 0-6 ATS in first round games, 0-5 after failing to cover, against teams with losing records, and against Atlantic Division teams, 0-4 after a straight up loss, 0-6-1 overall and against Eastern conference teams.

The Hawks haven’t looked right in this series. Part of it is injuries, but some of it is rust from not playing a meaningful game in the last 3 weeks of the season after clinching the #1 seed in the East. Many thought Atlanta would walk over Brooklyn into the next round, but they are in fight for their playoff lives. If the Hawks are an elite team then this is the kind of game they should win.

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