Charles Barkley believes the Hawks will defeat the Nets in their first-round playoff series. However, the TNT analyst thinks the Nets could present problems in the No. 1 vs. No. 8 Eastern Conference matchup.
Speaking on a playoff preview conference call Thursday, Barkley said: “I don’t think Brooklyn can beat them, but I think it can be a very interesting series. What’s going to be real interesting is the Joe Johnson factor. I can promise you that (former Hawk) Joe Johnson is going to try to win that series by himself. … The Nets won’t beat the Hawks, but I’m not sold on the Hawks because they are too little.”
“The Nets won’t go out quickly, they have a good chance to make it a competitive series,” he later added.
On the same conference call, fellow analyst Kenny Smith said the Hawks and Warriors, the top teams in each conference, have proven themselves in the regular season.
"(The Hawks and Warriors) both won 60 games for a reason, and (the eight seeds) squeaked in for a reason. After the first round, with the best eight teams left, a lot can happen. Atlanta and Golden State have proven that they are more than jump shooting teams, they have good defenses and will have a good chance to finish it out."
Smith also predicts the Hawks will easily win the series.
“Brooklyn was so inconsistent this year, it won’t be a terribly difficult series for Atlanta," Smith said. " But if Brooklyn had gotten it together, this could have been a series I’d think they could win.