Sharpshooter Kyle Korver and the Atlanta Hawks proved to be a little too much for the Brooklyn Nets in a 99-92 Game 1 victory on Sunday afternoon. Korver finished as the game’s top scorer, posting 21 points on 6-of-12 shooting from the field, including 5-of-11 from three-point range. One of those bombs was a huge three off the dribble late in the fourth quarter after the Nets got within five with just over three minutes left.
While the Nets managed to keep the game close despite being in danger of getting blown out on several occasions, a well-rounded performance from star Brook Lopez simply wasn’t enough to get the job done. Lopez finished with 17 points and 14 rebounds in the contest, and it’s clear that the Hawks aren’t really going to have an answer for him throughout the series. The real question in Brooklyn is whether or not anybody else is going to be able to step up and make a more significant contribution alongside Lopez.
Perhaps the best candidate to do just that is forward Thaddeus Young, who finished the contest with 15 points and 10 rebounds. Young has added energy to the Nets’ lineup after coming over from the Minnesota Timberwolves in a midseason trade. With the Hawks being an undersized team up front and the Nets not getting enough out of guards Joe Johnson and Deron Williams, Brooklyn’s chances of winning any games in Atlanta, and any games in the series for that matter, will definitely depend heavily on what happens in the paint. The Nets did grab 12 offensive rebounds (six for Lopez and five for Young) and won the rebounding battle by eight, so that was a plus.
Speaking of players needing to step up, DeMarre Carroll certainly did that for the Hawks on Sunday. He finished with 17 points and eight rebounds in the game and hustled up and down the court all night long. Carroll’s effort was certainly evident late in the fourth quarter when he dove after a loose ball and called a quick timeout to help seal the victory for Atlanta.
The importance of Carroll’s effort was further amplified by the fact that at least one Hawks player wasn’t at his best on Sunday. That player was Paul Millsap, who only managed to sink a pair of field goals in Game 1 despite throwing up a healthy 11 attempts. He’ll undoubtedly look to improve on his six-point effort going into Game 2, and if he does, the Hawks should be able to head to Brooklyn with a 2-0 lead in the series.
Overall, it’s safe to say the opening game of the series was a bit closer than most anticipated, and it’s obvious that Lopez is capable of carrying his team and giving the Nets a chance. (Lopez should probably get more than seven shots next game. ) The main question mark is whether the Nets around the perimeter can really find their shooting tough enough to handle Korver and crew. Brooklyn shot just 5-of-20 from three, with Johnson going 0-of-6 from long range, and that’s just not going to cut it against Atlanta.
Putting it all together will be a tall task for the Nets, which is why Atlanta is a heavy favorite to win the series. Of course, games are played on the court and not on paper, so perhaps those that suggested the Hawks would sweep the series or take it in five games should revise their predictions, because although Brooklyn didn’t win the game, they did make it clear that they won’t go down without a fight.