The Nets are at home, but the Hawks are the first in action. John Collins has teeth, and his association with Clint Capela is straining the local defense. With Timothé Luwawu-Cabarrot in the five major, Brooklyn is still cold, like a Kevin Durant who misses several open shots in a row, which benefits the visitors (15-11). Lloyd Pierce’s collective is perfectly oiled, and each player sits perfectly.
Danilo Gallinari comes into play, and puts Collins in orbit (7 points already!) On his first action. Trae Young is in good shape, and perfectly guides his team against the Nets who can not yet find the key to limit their impact. Joe Harris plants two banderillas from afar, but Collins continues his work in painting despite the sprawling arms of Jarrett Allen. After twelve minutes, the visitors are still ahead in an attacking match (41-38).
Bogdan Bogdanovic opens fire long distance (11 points in the first period), but Taurean Prince (already 8 points) and Caris LeVert answer him tit for tat. The Hawks’ defense gives up a little (too much) ballast, and Coach Pierce is looking for solutions. Young finds the floor but his team is caught, then passed on the scoreboard (56-54). Collins takes his place in the racket, and the return of the holders stabilizes the defense. Kyrie Irving has gone completely through his game so far (1/10 on shots) and Steve Nash’s men cannot find the key to slowing down the infernal Young-Collins duo (16 points each in the first period). The meeting takes place at a very high pace, which is convenient for Atlanta’s business. At the break, the band Trae Young leads by a short header (68-67).
Gallinari comes out on injury
The Hawks are picking up again, and the Young-Collins duo are still doing a tremendous job. Joe Harris is on fire on the Nets side, while opposite, Cam Reddish is very interesting in defense, and effective in attack. The “sophomore” only makes good decisions, without forcing anything. Steve Nash is visibly frustrated on his bench, and DeAndre Jordan is jostled by a Capela who finds his legs (84-79). The Visitor Defense does a great job preventing movement and the relationship between Irving and Durant. Bogdanovic multiplies his advice at each stoppage of play, and despite the premature exit of Gallinari (ankle), the veterans of the team are very valuable.
Brooklyn side, Landry Shamet does not miss anything, and tries to pull his team up, well supported by the former Hawk, Taurean Prince. Bruno Fernando quibbles Allen in the paint, and despite some hesitation in attacking the Hawks’ second unit, the team is still holding up. Bogdanovic lights up all the time, and his training keeps control on the scoreboard after three quarters (104-101).
And Irving wakes up …
The locals have 12 minutes to take this game, but Collins tears off every ball. The young Hawks dunker shows the muscles on Durant, and with Young’s return to the floor, Atlanta is once again stepping up the game. Moment chosen by Irving to finally come out of his torpor, and with two open shots, the All-Star point guard gives the advantage to his team, which still struggles (120-118).
The faults on Young follow one another, and the leader spends long series on the free throw line. The pace slows down, Irving takes matters into his own hands in the money time. Coach Pierce catches De’Andre Hunter on the fly on two defensive lapses, and Reddish is effective in penetration. Irving is unstoppable, and all the balls go through his hands in his dying minutes. Two minutes from time, the locals have only one possession ahead (137-134). Bogdanovic finds the field to calm Irving.
But 30 seconds from the end, the leader of the Nets (16 points in the last quarter) planted again at mid-distance, and the Hawks missed two winning shots in a row to return to equality. Durant finishes the job on a dunk and free throws, and despite a final basket from Young, the Nets inflict the first loss of the season on the very interesting Hawks (145-141).