Brooklyn Nets coach Lionel Hollins says his team has no advantages over the Atlanta Hawks in their forthcoming playoff series.
The Brooklyn Nets went down to the 82nd game before they officially clinched a spot in the 2015 NBA Playoffs. They enter the playoffs as the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference despite a 38-44 record (six games below .500).
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They tip off their first-round series against the Atlanta Hawks, the No.1 seed in the East, who won 60 games this year, on Sunday at 4:30 PM ET.
That 22-win disparity may be one reason head coach Lionel Hollins isn’t exactly optimistic about his team’s chances in the series.
If we only look at the regular season records, it is hard to argue with Hollins. A 22-win disparity is a pretty large gap. Yet it is the same win disparity of the 8-1 matchup in the Western Conference between the New Orleans Pelicans (45 wins) and Golden State Warriors (67 wins).
But the matchups are different. First, Brooklyn does not have Anthony Davis, or anyone nearing his level. Brook Lopez is a solid NBA big man. Joe Johnson is known for making big shots. And Deron Williams was once a top-three NBA point guard. None, though, are the equal of Davis–the type of player who could will his team to a win or two in the playoffs even against one of the top-10 regular season NBA teams of all-time.
Then again, the Hawks are not quite the world-beaters that the Warriors are. They won seven fewer games than the Warriors despite playing in the obviously weaker Eastern Conference.
All that is to say that surface matters of win-loss records and talent discrepancy is probably proportionate in the two 8-1 series.
Yet Hollins is correct. The Nets do not have any advantages against the Hawks. The Hawks were the sixth most efficient offense in the NBA this year, scoring 108.9 points per 100 possessions.
The Nets were 23rd in DRtg, giving up 107.4 points per 100 possessions, according to basketball-reference.com.
Flipping it around, the Nets were 20th in offensive efficiency, scoring 104.4 points per 100 possessions, while Atlanta yielded fewer points per 100 possessions, 103.1, good for sixth best in the league.
Neither team plays an especially brisk pace. Atlanta was literally right in the middle of the league in possessions per game, while Brooklyn was 24th, which makes each possession that much more crucial. That favors the better shooting team, who is Atlanta.
The Hawks were known this year for essentially adopting the Spurs’ no-hero ball offensive approach, ranking second in assisted field goals per game, while Brooklyn was in the bottom half of the league, according to NBA.com.
The Hawks are a better shooting team, with better depth, and play better defense.
So is Hollins correct? In a word, yes. Yes he is.
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