National Basketball Association
Brooklyn at Atlanta
When: 5:30 PM ET, Sunday, April 19, 2015
Where: Philips Arena, Atlanta, Georgia
The Atlanta Hawks went all the way from the bottom of the Eastern Conference playoff bracket to the top in one season and will now try to advance out of the first round. The Hawks will try to build on their franchise-record campaign when they host the Brooklyn Nets in Game 1 of the first round on Sunday.
Atlanta won a franchise-record 60 games in the regular season and goes into the playoffs as a heavy favorite to dispatch the Nets. “I don’t think we have any advantage over the Hawks,” Nets coach Lionel Hollins told reporters on a conference call. “That’s why they’re 60-22 and that’s why we’re where we are (38-44). They’re a very good team and we have to go out and develop a game plan to control the tempo, rebound and score against them consistently.” Brooklyn had to fight until the final day of the regular season to make the playoffs, briefly dropping out of the top eight after losing twice to Atlanta in April. The Hawks took all four meetings in the regular season, including a 131-99 drubbing at home on Apr. 4.
5:30 p.m. ET, TNT, YES (Brooklyn), SportSouth (Atlanta)ABOUT THE NETS (38-44):
Brooklyn dropped two straight games by a combined 50 points before saving itself with a home win over the lowly Orlando Magic on the final day of the regular season. “Nobody’s picking us to win (this series), so hopefully we can go out there and play loose, have fun and play to win,” point guard Deron Williams told reporters. Williams leads a veteran group that includes guard Joe Johnson and center Brook Lopez, whose 21 points and 9.5 rebounds over the final 23 games helped the team outlast the rest of the field for the No. 8 spot.ABOUT THE HAWKS (60-22):
Atlanta is well aware of how dangerous a No. 8 seed can be after taking top-seeded Indiana to seven games itself in the first round last spring. The Hawks are a different team this time around in part due to the health of center Al Horford, who missed the playoffs last year, and an offense than has become even more efficient than the spread unit employed by coach Mike Budenholzer against the Pacers. “I’ve been in the playoffs every year I’ve been here, so I know what the atmosphere is going to be like, I know how crucial every possession is,” Atlanta point guard Jeff Teague told reporters. “(The Nets) do, too. They’re a veteran ball club, so it’s going to be a dogfight.”BUZZER BEATERS
1. Nets F Mirza Teletovic (blood clots) has been cleared to resume basketball activities but is not expected to play in the first two games of the series.
2. Atlanta F Paul Millsap (shoulder) is expected to play while backup F Mike Scott (back) is questionable.
3. Brooklyn G Alan Anderson (ankle) missed the final seven games of the regular season but plans on playing Sunday.PREDICTION:
Hawks 105, Nets 92
Stats and Records