Brooklyn Boro

Nets open critical homestand vs. Hawks

Play-in tournament hopes may hang on series with Atlanta

February 29, 2024 John Torenli, Sports Editor Brooklyn Daily Eagle
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With 24 regular-season games remaining, the Brooklyn Nets certainly don’t have the look of a team vying for postseason contention.

Their two-game series with the visiting Atlanta Hawks at Downtown’s Barclays Center, beginning with Thursday night’s opener, may change that perception.

If, of course, they can manage a win or two.

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Coming off a 1-4 road trip that began with a 50-point loss in Boston, likely hastening the exit of former head coach Jacque Vaughn, and ending with Tuesday’s 108-81 defeat in Orlando, the Nets (22-36) are on the brink of irrelevancy.

They will enter Thursday’s tilt four games behind the 10th-place Hawks (26-32) for the final spot in the Eastern Conference’s play-in tournament.

Brooklyn ended a four-game losing streak in Memphis Monday to nab interim coach Kevin Ollie his first career NBA win at the helm, but was unable to repeat the feat against the Magic, who pulled away early and never looked back.

Mikal Bridges, the Nets’ leading scorer, suffered through his worst game of the season, managing just four points, all of which came after intermission, while misfiring on all seven of his 3-point attempts as Brooklyn shot 39 percent from the field overall.

The Nets also committed 20 turnovers, leading to 29 points for the Magic, who were without leading scorer Paolo Banchero due to an illness.

“We were just a little bit careless with (the ball),” noted Bridges, who finished 2-for-13 from the field overall.

Brooklyn was missing starting point guard Ben Simmons (back), but will have him available against Atlanta.

If Dennis Schroder and the Nets have playoff aspirations, they must find a way to beat 10th-place Atlanta Thursday and Saturday in Downtown Brooklyn. AP Photo by Brandon Dill

Cam Thomas injured his ankle during the win in Memphis, but was unable to go in Orlando and has been ruled out for Thursday.

Ollie, who will be making his Brooklyn head-coaching debut, knows his team has little margin for error as it tries to climb back into the hunt in the East.

“We just got to have a little bit more poise and take care of the basketball,” he noted.

“Without (Thomas) and a couple other of our players we got to be really, really efficient on the offense end, not turn the ball over, get shots, and not have empty possessions. I thought we just had to many empty possessions (in Orlando).”

The Nets split a pair of meetings with the Hawks this season, including a wild 147-145 overtime loss in Atlanta on Nov. 22 that saw Bridges put up a career high-tying 45 points only to watch Trae Young steal the show and the game during the extra session.

Young, who is out for at least a month with torn ligament in his pinky, had 43 points in the initial encounter and added 30 against Brooklyn on Dec. 6, but had to suffer through Bridges capping a 32-point effort with the winning jumper with 4.5 seconds remaining in regulation.

Though Young and Bridges won’t be dueling Thursday night in Brooklyn, the Hawks have shown they can win without their leading scorer.

Atlanta has won two straight since Young went down to injury, including Tuesday’s 124-97 rout of visiting Utah.

Jalen Johnson had 22 points and Dejounte Murray added 17 points and 11 assists for the Hawks, who held an opponent below 100 points in back-to-back games for the first time this season.

“I think our communication has been better than it has been,” Johnson said. “(We are) executing defensively and sticking to the game plan.”

The rematch will be played Saturday afternoon at Barclays Center at 3 p.m.

Tip-off for Thursday night is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.

The Nets have not been home since Feb. 13, when they suffered a 118-110 loss to the Celtics in the opener of their home-and-home, back-to-back series.

Brooklyn will also welcome Memphis and Philadelphia to Barclays on Monday and Tuesday, respectively.


The 2024 WNBA Draft will be held at the Brooklyn Academy of Music on April 15. The Liberty will have the 11th overall selection. AP Photo by Adam Hunger

The WNBA announced Wednesday that the 2024 Draft will be held at the Brooklyn Academy of Music on April 15.

This marks the first time the draft will be a seated event with fans in attendance since the 2014-16 drafts were held at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut.

“We are focused on creating elevated events that WNBA fans won’t want to miss, at a time when the energy for the WNBA has never been higher,” said WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert.

“Last season resulted in our most-watched-regular season in over two decades, our highest total attendance in 13 years and set record figures across WNBA digital and social platforms.”

The Liberty, coming off their first Finals appearance since 2002 as well as the most wins in franchise history and record-setting attendance figures at Barclays Center, will have the 11th overall pick.

Tickets for the event will be made available to approximately 1,000 fans and will go on sale on March 7.

More information on ticket packages for WNBA Draft 2024 presented by State Farm will be available on next month.

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