3. Good opponent for a Russell return to form
As the Brooklyn Nets were beating the Atlanta Hawks 144-127 on Dec. 16, point guard D’Angelo Russell led the charge with 32 points and seven assists while hitting 13-of-19 shots overall and knocking down five of his nine 3-point attempts.
Prior to Monday’s loss at Boston, Russell had perhaps the best four-game stretch of his career, putting up 26.5 points and 7.5 assists in 48.8 percent shooting overall and hitting 35.1 percent from deep.
But Russell struggled mightily in the Nets’ 116-95 loss to the Celtics, turning the ball over six times — four in the first quarter alone — and finishing with just five points and five assists in 23 minutes.
Russell’s size created problems for Atlanta’s rookie point guard Trae Young and the Hawks will be without arguably their best perimeter defender Wednesday night with Kent Bazemore still sidelined with a sprained ankle.
Jeremy Lin, who started his first game of the season Tuesday night for the Hawks, is a bit bigger than Young, but doesn’t have a reputation as a defensive stopper.
If Atlanta coach Lloyd Pierce opts for superior perimeter defender DeAndre’ Bembry to match up against Russell, it will still leave Young at a size mismatch against Joe Harris, one of the NBA’s best at moving without the ball and coming off screens.
In any event, it would seem a visit from the still-defensively challenged Hawks could be a quick get-well remedy for Russell after a tough outing in Beantown.