Postgame Thoughts: Hawks vs. Magic
The Hawks survived the difficult start to the season with a slew of playoff teams, then held their own on their first trip out West. Now, with a slew of winnable games coming up at Philips Arena, how would the team fare? They certainly got off to a good start with an 81-72 win over the Magic on Monday night. A few thoughts on the team’s win over their Southeast rival:
— Let’s take a moment to appreciate the Hawks’ ball movement. Atlanta had only 18 assists tonight, but that number doesn’t tell the full story of how well they shared the ball. Several assists could have been added to that total had the team shot the ball a bit better (only 38.2% for the game). There were also several passes that were just off the mark that led to turnovers, but as the players become more and more comfortable with each other those will decrease. It truly is a joy to watch this team work together, and they are only going to get better.
— Al Horford and Jeff Teague were, in my opinion, the best two players on the court tonight. Horford, we’ve sung his praises many times before, but I continue to believe that Teague is really starting to establish himself as a player to be reckoned with. Teague had 9 points and 7 assists in just over 27 minutes of court time, and chipped in 2 steals and a block as well.
— Larry Drew has talked at times about how the Hawks need to push the pace, and though it was a low-scoring game tonight his players did just that, getting out and running at every opportunity. They realized the Magic would struggle to match up with them in an open court game and they took advantage.
— For a team that many thought would score in bunches but have a hard time stopping their opponents, this was a pretty nice defensive effort. The Hawks tightened the defensive screws in the second half, holding the Magic to only 12 points in the third quarter and giving up a season-low 72 points, and scored 24 points off of 19 turnovers.
— Finally, a solid kudos to the Hawks’ backup bigs, as both Zaza Pachulia and Ivan Johnson played outstanding basketball. Zaza had 8 points and a team-high 11 rebounds in 22 minutes, and Ivan Johnson had 9 and 8 in 17:30 on the court. Both were aggressive on offense but never out of control, and helped the Hawks to a 46-34 advantage in points in the paint.
All in all a terrific way to start a home stand.
What’d you think?