While most of the NBA kicks off the 2011-2012 season Monday, the Atlanta Hawks don't start their season until Tuesday Dec. 27, when they travel to New Jersey to play the new-look Nets.
In what's going to be a common occurrence in this lockout-shortened season, New Jersey will be playing the second night of a back-to-back, as the Nets face the Washington Wizards in D.C. on Monday night.
New Jersey is still recovering from a devastating pre-season foot injury to 7'0 center Brook Lopez, as their roster was already extremely thin in an effort to save cap space for a run at Dwight Howard in the summer of 2012.
They acquired Mehmet Okur to form a pick-and-roll pairing with his old point guard Deron Williams, but they have very little NBA-quality depth on the wings to complement the two former Utah Jazz.
That should be a big advantage for an Atlanta team with All-Star caliber players at shooting guard (Joe Johnson) and power forward (Al Horford, Josh Smith), as an undersized Nets team should have trouble keeping them off the offensive glass.
Facing Deron Williams, one of the NBA's elite point guards, will be a great test for Hawks PG Jeff Teague, who has been handed the starting job after a break-out performance in the 2011 playoffs but has struggled with a sprained ankle in the shortened preseason. It will be also the first time for Atlanta fans to see how new additions Tracy McGrady, Jannero Pargo and Willie Green look in Hawks uniforms.
The 7:30 PM game will be televised on Fox Sports South.