Joe Johnson returns to Atlanta yet again to face his former team in the Atlanta Hawks. His original debut as a road player at Atlanta's Philips Arena earlier this year didn't go very well for the Nets
When: 7:00 pm; Saturday, March 9th, 2013
Where: Philips Arena; Atlanta, GA
TV: YES Network
Just 1.5 games separate these two teams--the Nets and Hawks-- in the Eastern Conference standings right now, with Brooklyn in 4th place and Atlanta down in 7th. That fact makes tonight's matchup down in Georgia very important for playoff seeding purposes, and with the Nets (mainly D-Will) coming off a record-breaking win at home last night vs the Wizards--and Atlanta stuck in a 1-4 slump--the initial advantage may lean towards Brooklyn. Furthermore, former Hawk Joe Johnson returns as an opponent to Atlanta for just the second time since his offseason trade up north to the Nets, something else which should make this game a little bit more interesting.
Furthermore, former Net Johan Petro, including in the Johnson deal, is expected to start tonight at center for Atlanta. Petro, who signed a three-year, $10 million deal with the then-New Jersey Nets back in 2010, had a pretty weird two seasons in New Jersey, displaying a little Andray-Blatche-like play with a not-awful jumpshot but constantly idiotic decision-making. Also, Petro, even as a 7-footer, was truly horrendous on defense and probably had more holes on that side of the floor than Spongebob (for the younger readers). Additionally, he had (still has) one of the biggest foreheads in NBA history and bears a shocking resemblance to Beaker, a "Muppets" character.
All jokes aside, tonight's game--coming on the second-half of a back-to-back for both teams--is very crucial to each the Nets and Hawks, as an Atlanta win would put them just a half-game behind Brooklyn in the standings. Conversely, a Nets win would put them within striking distance of the division-leading New York Knicks, who suffered a big blow today with the loss of Amare Stoudamire for six weeks due to yet another knee injury.
BKN- Williams (PG), Johnson (SG), Wallace (SF), Evans (PF), Lopez (C)
ATL- Teague (PG), Harris (SG), Josh Smith (SF), Horford (PF), Petro (C)
A lot of familiar faces for both sides will appear in this game. It's necessary for the Nets to put aside the reunion-like atmosphere of a meeting like this and to focus on what matters, getting that W.