The Brooklyn Nets have come a long way since barely sneaking into the 2015 NBA playoffs with a sub .500 record. In fact, they were at one point two points away from pushing to a 3-2 lead over the Atlanta Hawks in their first round series. Instead, they rode Jarrett Jack for far too long and sunk in a sea of turnovers and missed shots.

Now the Nets head back home to the Barclays Center, hoping one more home game is enough to propel them to another big win and a huge game seven back in Atlanta. The question is, will the Hawks allow it to happen? Let’s take a closer look at every angle of tonight’s only NBA game and see if we can’t tack on another win to our 29-8 playoff record:

Atlanta Hawks (1) @ Brooklyn Nets (8) on ESPN at 8:00 pm ET

There are four massive keys to this game, and they are, in no particular order, Lionel Hollins, Jeff Teague, Brooklyn’s defense and the Barclays Center.

You could place Hollins as the main reason we see nothing but inconsistency out of the Nets. His decision to keep Jarrett Jack on the court for nearly the entire fourth quarter in game five probably tells us all we need to know. Jack played a big hand in getting Brooklyn back into the game, but then he started making bad decisions and went cold. Hollins acted too late and it cost the Nets the game. That’s just one example, but it will be telling how Hollins handles in-game management once again tonight.

Teague hurt his ankle last game and could be limited heading into this big game. I doubt he sits, but if he isn’t 100% or even hurts himself further, we could see a lot more of Dennis Schroder. Schroder can be a jolt offensively, but he’s not the defender Teague is. If the Hawks have to deal with a less than stellar or completely absent Teague, they could be in for some trouble on defense.

Brooklyn’s defense wasn’t great in a big game five and it’s been sporadic all year long. It tends to show up at it’s best when they’re at home, but whether or not that’s the case tonight will be pretty key. Then again, with how Al Horford and DeMarre Carroll have been shooting the ball, it may not matter. Still, the Nets (despite not having a great record) play extremely well on their home floor, and overall should be ready to play tonight.

The question, of course, is will it matter? I say no. Atlanta looked very focused at home in game five and we all know a playoff series doesn’t truly start until a team wins on the road. Atlanta can’t afford to give the Nets an out in game seven and getting that first road win is pretty key for their future success in these playoffs. I don’t expect the Nets to lie down, but the Hawks are the better team and in some degree we should feel that tonight.

Pick: Hawks 109, Nets 104

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