ATLANTA – The Hawks had their home opener on Friday night against the Raptors, and they looked impressive as they picked up the win 102-95. The crowd was good all night, and there was a buzz about this team that had been lacking in years past.
The Hawks came out with good ball movement and had 6 first quarter assists. They weren’t running a lot of pick and rolls, but Jeff Teague would be runn off of a lot of off-ball screens, and he was effective early. Clearly, Al Horford wanted to make up for his poor offensive performance in the first game, as he scored 9 points in the 1st. The ball movement led to three 3 pointers, and they were playing in the flow of coach Budenholzer’s offense.
The Raptors were a lot more stagnant on offense, and many of their points came off of isolation plays. They did take advantage of the Hawks’ lack of size, and they were getting a lot of shots at the rim. The Raptors attempted only 1 3 pointer in the first quarter. DeMarre Carroll played tough defense on Rudy Gay, and every time Gay was on the floor, Carroll was right there. Both teams would shoot 10 of 22 from the field in the first quarter.
The Hawks would put on a dominant display of defense in the second quarter. They didn’t give them a slither of room to breathe, and it led to transition buckets for the Hawks. Their ball movement was still crisp, and they started to put their foot on the gas. The Hawks hit three straight 3 pointers to take an 8 point lead, and Jeff Teague stole the ball and slammed it home to give the Hawks a ten point lead going into halftime. They held the Raptors to 15 2nd quarter points, and they held them under 40 points for the half. Teague had 8 assists going into the intermission.
The third quarter was another dominant quarter for the Hawks. Their ball movement was fantastic, and it led to a lot of mismatches and open shots. Kyle Korver was the beneficiary of that, and he hit multiple 3 pointers with plenty of space. Millsap and Horford had some good passes to each other, and you can tell the chemistry is starting to build with the two players. The Hawks led by as many 18 during the third. DeMar DeRozan got hot and cut the lead to 10 points, but the Hawks regained their composure. Kyle Korver had a huge third quarter and had 14 points heading into the 4th. The Hawks led 79-68 after 36 minutes.
The 4th quarter saw the Hawks start the quarter with mostly reserves, and the Hawks let the Raptors get within 6. When the starters came back in, the Raptors and Hawks traded blows, and they ended up pulling it out 102-95 after a series of late game free throws.
Al Horford was a “man” as Budenholzer called him, as he had 22 points and 16 rebounds. Jeff Teague orchestrated the offense well, and he had 17 points and 12 assists. The Hawks had 24 assists on 36 made baskets, and we are starting to see what this offense could become.
- The Hawks were stressing transition defense, and it worked. They held the Raptors to 6 fast break points, and were disciplined all night. Coach Budenholzer said he was proud of the team, and he thinks they are gelling well.
- DeMarre Carroll is proving that he can shut down the best player on the opposing team, as he held Rudy Gay to 6 of 23 shooting. The team also played great defense, and their rotations were great all night.
- The team seems to be buying into Bud’s system, and it resembled the Spurs.
- The Hawks were running a lot of off ball screens as opposed to pick and rolls, and it led to mismatches for guys like Paul Millsap. If they did run pick and roll, Horford ran a lot of slip screens.
- Paul Millsap showed a lot of versatility, as he was handling the ball in transition, and he spent some time on the perimeter. He also spent some time guarding Rudy Gay. He looked like Josh Smith at times.
- Jeff Teague was in high spirits in the locker room, and he was singing as the media walked in.
- The team seems to be ready to build off this win, and they all spoke to that fact.
- In his post game press conference, coach Bud said that he thinks they can learn a lot from this game, and he’s excited to use every moment as a teaching moment.
The Hawks showed flashes of what they could do in this system, and I think you will see a consistent effort like this more often. The Hawks won their home opener, and they are currently 1-1 on the season. They head to LA to face the Lakers on Sunday.