- Mike Mazzeo, ESPN New York Writer
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NEW YORK -- Despite being banged up, Brooklyn Nets point guard Deron Williams will start in Game 4 of his team's first-round playoff series against the Atlanta Hawks on Monday night at Barclays Center.
On Sunday, teammate Joe Johnson told reporters that Williams had been dealing with "severe" tendinitis, presumably in his knees. Williams had fallen on his tailbone taking a charge in Game 3 and later appeared to hurt his right leg while trying to get around a screen.
During the series, Williams is averaging 6.0 points, 7.0 rebounds and 5.3 assists on 26.9 percent shooting. The Hawks lead the Nets, 2-1.
Nets coach Lionel Hollins offered an unprompted defense of Williams after practice for the second time in four days following Sunday's practice.
"I'm talking from my perspective regarding Deron and what I read in the press. I think it's totally unfair," Hollins said. "Talking about Deron, though, from a playing perspective, Deron has played well. Would he like to shoot better? Yes. Would we like him to shoot better? Yes. But he's played extremely well. He's gotten us off to great starts with his pace. He's made passes and when you're getting seven, eight assists in a game and eight-to-10 rebounds, you're doing a lot of stuff right. He's making passes to people and we made shots. I'm disappointed in how everybody is coming down on Deron and treating him like he's a pariah. Deron's a good person, he's a good player. Now is he on a level that you guys think he should be? That's your fault for thinking somebody should be."
The Nets acquired Williams in February 2011 and re-signed him to a five-year, $98 million max contract in the summer of 2012 with hopes that he would catapult the franchise into championship contention. It hasn't worked out that way.
"That's four years ago. We're (here) now. No player is the way he was four years ago," Hollins said. "All I'm saying is now is that the guy is playing well. Somebody picks out that he has two points (in Game 2). So what? He played well. It's not just about the scoring.
"If it was just about the scoring, there are a lot of teams that would be better because they have guys who score a lot of points. But it's about winning. It's about doing the right things for the team. And I'll defend Deron until the end on that and all my players to the end if you think that just because a guy makes a lot of money and is supposed on a level because everybody put him on that level -- whether it be the organization, or whomever -- it's still where we are now. And we have to deal with now. And I support him 100 percent."
Nets point guard Deron Williams will start in Game 4 of his team's first-round playoff series against the Atlanta Hawks on Monday night at Barclays Center.