The Brooklyn Nets (12-21) are set to face the Atlanta Hawks (18-16) at the Barclay's Center on Monday night.
The matchup between the two Eastern Conference foes is with two teams that are basically on the other side of the spectrum. The Hawks are a bit of a surprise as they currently stand in third place in the woeful conference, while the Nets are on the outside of the playoff picture looking in as they have been a major disappointment.
Each team will be without one if it's stars. The Hawks will be without Al Horford for the rest of the season as he tore his pectoral muscle last week. They will roll out a starting lineup of Jeff Teague, Kyle Korver, DeMarre Carroll, Paul Millsap and Pero Antic.
It was announced on Monday by coach Jason Kidd that Deron Williams will sit out Monday's game as his ankle has swelled up. With Williams absence, the Nets are expected to start Shaun Livingston, Alan Anderson, Joe Johnson, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett.
Just yesterday, the team sent backup point guard Tyshawn Taylor down to their D-League squad in Springfield. However, with Williams set to miss this game and possibly more now, Taylor was quickly recalled this morning and could even see some action tonight.
On Saturday night, the Nets welcomed back Andray Blatche, who had missed the team's three-game road trip due to personal reasons. Blatche came off the bench to score 12 points as the Nets defeated the Cavaliers.
Nets enter their Monday night matchup having won consecutive games for just the second time this season. Just when it seemed things may start to turn around, Williams will miss tonight. It's been a frustrating season for the star guard, who will now miss his twelfth game this year.
What's worse for Brooklyn is that Atlanta comes to town with one of the NBA's top rising point guards. Jeff Teague is one of the main reasons the Hawks have been one of the best team's in the Eastern Conference this season. The fifth year guard out of Wake Forest has hit big shots and made big plays for the team all season long. Teague is currently averaging 16.9 points per game and 8.1 assists.
In the absence of Williams, the Nets will have to make several adjustments. The most important may be is getting Joe Johnson back on his game. Johnson has scored less than ten points in each of the last five games. During that span Johnson has made just 30 percent of his field goals, hitting just 15 of 50 attempts. Kidd will have to find ways to get him easy looks.
The Nets are going to have to keep Teague under wraps. With Williams out, Teague may be able to dominate the point guard position. Livingston and Anderson will have their work cut out for them.
Also, Brooklyn will have to make sure they do not let sharpshooter Kyle Korver get too many open looks from three. Korver is arguably the best shooter in the NBA and will make you pay if you leave him open.
Paul Millsap can give team's fits with his ability to play inside and out. The Nets big guys will have to make sure to stay with Millsap at all times.
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