The Atlanta Hawks needed this game and, to get it, they needed more than 10 points and six assists out of Trae Young. Unfortunately for them, the Brooklyn Nets had a plan for the two-time All-Star and executed it to perfection leading them to a 124-107 victory over the Hawks amid a tight Eastern Conference playoff race.
“You saw we had different bodies on him,” Vaughn told reporters in his postgame presser shared by the YES Network on YouTube. “And then we didn’t foul him as much to get him going, sometimes you get a player like that [and] he makes free throws, and then next thing you know he feels good about himself. I thought all of his shots were contested tonight with a heavy hand in front of him.”
Young finished the game with 10 points and six assists, going 3-for-12 from the floor and a frigid 0-for-5 from beyond the arc. It’s his worst performance since a 9-points, six-assist night in a loss to the San Antonio Spurs on March 19.
But even in that game, he was more efficient (26.7% FG, 1-for-4 3P) than he was against the Nets on Friday.
It was just the third time he’s scored 10 points or fewer points this season, all in March.
Atlanta is 0-3 in those games. This was also the 10th time he has seen fewer than five free throw attempts – they are now 6-4 when that happens. But the most important thing is this loss knocks the Hawks back below .500 on the season and allowed the Chicago Bulls to get within one game of the Hawks for the eight-seed after their win over the woeful Charlotte Hornets.
“It’s some nuance to guarding him,” Vaughn said. “Which way he likes to go, what moves he considers his go-to moves – so I think we were more locked into what those look like. And then making him finish at the rim over length.”
Vaughn noted that he started Spencer Dinwiddie on Young defensively and, at 6-foot-5, it makes perfect sense why. But it’s not as though there were many wrong options – Dinwiddie is Brooklyn’s shortest starter.
Brooklyn Nets aimed to neutralize Atlanta Hawks swingman Bogdan Bogdanovic
“We didn’t want to give up threes to [Bogdan] Bogdanovic,” Vaughn said of going with Dorian Finney-Smith as a small-ball center instead of Day’Ron Sharpe. “A guy like that…we didn’t want to get him going. That was a huge piece of it. And that was a part of their barrage of Bogdanovic being in the game and them playing faster. And it’s just the likelihood — bigs are bigs. And they gravitate towards the rim, and when Bogdanovic can shoot threes that can be deadly.”
Bogdanovic had 12 points, five assists, and three rebounds.
He was efficient overall shooting 57.1% from the floor. But, to Snyder’s point, Bogdanovic went 2-for-5 from deep – solid efficiency but on fewer attempts than he typically gets up.
The Hawks have five games left in the regular season. They are now two full games behind the Miami Heat for the seven-seed but just one game ahead of the Toronto Raptors and Chicago Bulls the latter of whom they will face on April 4 in Chicago. It’s just one of four games against teams chasing playoff spots down the stretch.