The Nets were able to squeak into the playoffs on the final night of the regular season, even though they relinquished control of their own destiny two days earlier with an embarrassing performance at home against the Bulls.
Brooklyn managed to beat the lowly Orlando Magic, but needed the Pacers to lose in Memphis in order to gain entry into the postseason.
Now that they’re in, few believe they’ll be able to win a single game against the top-seeded Atlanta Hawks. That may include Nets head coach Lionel Hollins, who was as realistic as possible when speaking with reporters on a conference call the day after his team’s postseason berth became official.
“I don’t think we have any advantage over the Hawks,” Nets coach Lionel Hollins said in a conference call on Thursday. “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. They’ve played well against a lot of teams, including us, so it’s not like I think we have the advantage going in. We have to develop a game plan that can help us go out and compete.” …
“They have a very versatile team,” Hollins said. “They have a lot of quickness at every single position and they play relatively small. And that puts you at a disadvantage when the other team is quicker than you because they’re smaller than you. We have to combat that by doing whatever we can and develop that plan as we go forward.”
Hollins is merely stating the obvious.
The Nets will be hard-pressed to win even once against this Hawks team. Just three days earlier, we saw the way the Bulls were able to use dribble penetration, ball movement and timely shooting to shred Brooklyn, in a game that wasn’t close 12 minutes in.
The Hawks have done that more consistently than Chicago has been able to all season long, so while Nets fans may not want to hear it put so bluntly, at least Hollins is aware of the task at hand.