Too little too late. That was the story following the Brooklyn Nets’ Game 2 loss at the hands of the Atlanta Hawks on Wednesday night, and because of that defeat, the eighth seeded Nets now find themselves down 2-0 in the series as it shifts back to the Barclays Center in Brooklyn on Saturday.
The series is playing out exactly as expected so far as the city and the team in Atlanta looks inspired at the thought of going deep into the NBA playoffs, armed with new ownership and all. One man that certainly brought his best in Game 2 for the Hawks was Paul Millsap, who silenced those asking questions about his shoulder injury by drilling 7 of 11 field goals in the contest, finishing with a team-high 19 points and 7 rebounds. Millsap’s effort was complemented by four other Hawks who scored in double figures, including Al Horford, who chipped in 14 points and 13 rebounds in the game.
Yet as balanced as the Hawks’ scoring was in the game, Nets point guard Deron Williams had a chance to tie the game with a baseline jump shot in the dying seconds of the fourth quarter. The shot rattled in around the rim and bounced out, an all too common theme that seems to have plagued the struggling Williams throughout the latter half of the regular season and the playoffs.
It’s those same struggles however that have led to Jarrett Jack having to step up more often and he did just that on Wednesday. Jack scored a game-high 23 points on 9-of-13 shooting and also contributed five rebounds and three assists. He did all of his damage in just 28 minutes on the floor.
Despite the fact that Jack did well and Brook Lopez put up a solid 20 points and 9 rebounds in the game while shooting over 50% from the field, the Nets simply weren’t able to put together any big runs or safe leads in the game. They did indeed give a scrappy effort in the game, but at this point it’s clear that they simply don’t measure up to the Atlanta Hawks, and that’s with Al Horford playing through a dislocated finger and Paul Millsap ailing as well.
If the Nets are going to win a game in the series however, it will likely come in Game 3. The team does have a few positives to build off of and given that the Nets now find themselves having to play desperation basketball in front of their home fans, now is as good a time as any.
No matter what the scenario may be though, the likes of Lopez, Williams and Joe Johnson are really going to have to step up their game if they hope to have any chance of getting back into the series. If they don’t, the Atlanta Hawks may be the first team in the Eastern Conference getting ready for Round 2.