Postgame Thoughts: Hawks Still Working Out Kinks After First Preseason Game
A few thought on tonight’s 92-87 loss to the Heat:
– First and foremost, basketball is back, and that’s pretty cool!
– I know it’s difficult not to look at the final score, but we need to remember that wins and losses aren’t as important in the preseason as fine-tuning the system and getting used to playing with on another. For the Hawks in particular, having an opportunity to execute Coach Bud’s system as well as getting used to a roster full of new guys will be what this preseason is all about. And believe me, it won’t happen overnight.
– One thing I noticed right away was the pace of the game. It’s a word Coach Bud has used a lot throughout the offseason and training camp, and it was clear right from the opening tip tonight that the message was get out and run. The transition game looked good in stretches, but of course, there were times when the Hawks were going a bit too fast. They turned it over 23 times, most coming on what appeared to be predictable or forced passes. As Bud has said, pace doesn’t always mean going fast all the time, it just means controlling the tempo, which is something a young group will learn as they get more experience. At this point, playing too fast is better than playing too slow.
– The Hawks were pretty good in transition, but they were not very good in their half-court sets. It’s early to tell what the holdup was, but at this point the offense is probably simplified, as they just haven’t had enough time to fine-tune the system yet.
– Coach Bud started Jeff Teague, Kyle Korver, DeMarre Carroll, Paul Millsap and Al Horford, which wasn’t a surprise considering that’s the lineup he was using as his “first team” in training camp. Carroll and Millsap both had nice Hawks debuts. They combined for 22 points on 11-20 shooting. Carroll also locked down LeBron James for the most part, holding the MVP to nine points on 4-11 shooting. He also added three steals.
– Mike Scott was the Hawks’ leading scorer, dropping 13 points, most of which came in the fourth quarter.
– Coach Bud only played 13 players tonight, and that included Gustavo Ayón, who left in the first quarter with an apparent right shoulder injury. With another game tomorrow night, it’s possible he’s keeping some legs fresh for the game against Charlotte in Asheville, N.C.
– The Heat are known for sniping opponents with corner threes, and they victimized the Hawks tonight to the tune of 12-26 shooting from deep. It all starts with on-ball defense. The Hawks will have to do a better job keeping the ball in front of them, which will in turn prevent them from having to help and subsequently leaving shooters open.
– Miami isn’t known for rebounding, but it was still encouraging to see Atlanta, who struggled on the glass last season, out-rebound the Heat 41-37 and hold Miami to five offensive rebounds.
Overall, there were a lot of encouraging things coming out of this group’s first game together. Let’s give credit to Miami. They are the defending champions, and they showed tonight why they’ll once again be among the elite teams. The NBA gave the Hawks a tough draw by sending them to Miami first, but it was a good opening test for Atlanta against a very good defensive team. The key is to make improvements every preseason game. Atlanta knows what it has to work on, so we’ll see what they do better tomorrow in Asheville.
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