The Atlanta Hawks will take on the Brooklyn Nets tonight at home at Philips Arena in Joe Johnson's first return to Philips Arena after Danny Ferry's blockbuster trade in July. Other former Hawks also returning to Philips Arena tonight are Josh Childress, Jerry Stackhouse, and Damion James (Hawks' 2010 first-round draft pick and member of the Hawks' 2012 training camp roster). MarShon Brooks played high school ball in Atlanta. This will be the first game of a home-and-home set with the Nets for the Hawks. With a win tonight, the Hawks would improve to 22-16 on the season, 1-0 in the regular season series with the Nets, and 1-0 in their home-and-home set. The probable starters for the Hawks tonight are Jeff Teague and Devin Harris in the backcourt, Kyle Korver and Al Horford at the two forward spots, and Zaza Pachulia at center. Josh Smith will be serving a team-imposed suspension tonight. It is unclear what exactly he has been suspended for. Anthony Morrow (sore lower back) is listed as questionable for tonight's contest. Before I analyze the keys to a W tonight for the Hawks, let me just explain to all my readers that Joe Johnson deserves a standing ovation tonight. He is the only player in Hawks' history to amass 10,000 points and 2,500 assists. He was a six-time All-Star (one-time starter), and he even was selected to an All-NBA team in his time with the Hawks. Not only did he rack up individual stats, but he led the Hawks to the playoffs for five-straight seasons and bailed us out of countless games with his offensive repertoire. If you are going to tell me that you are not going to thank him for this, then you are not a Hawks fan. It's not as though he left the team in free agency in a LeBron-esque manner. It's not his fault that ASG offered him such a lucrative contact. Don't tell me you wouldn't take the money that is put on the table, whether or not you thought yourself worthy of it. So, let's make his return special, and give him a nice applause for all he did for the ATL. Moving on, I think the key to a win tonight for the Hawks is boxing out (especially on the offensive glass). They haven't been knocking down shots lately, and the way to counter that is to box out after every shot is put up and try to get second-chance baskets. If the Hawks can show effort like that, I think they can get a W tonight at home against the recently relocated Nets.
Game Time: 7:30pm E.T. TV: SPSO. Radio: 680 The Fan, 98.9 The Bone (Steve Holman will be calling his 2,000 straight game tonight! Congrats go out to him!)