Hawks HC Quin Snyder clears air over starter’s absence from preseason opener

Atlanta Hawks, Quin Snyder. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports
Atlanta Hawks, Quin Snyder. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports /

The Atlanta Hawks finally got back on the court in a competitive fashion, notching a thrilling 108-17 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers at home in State Farm Arena. But they started the game with a noticeably different look. Hawks head coach Quin Snyder started both Saddiq Bey and Jalen Johnson – two players thought to be battling it out for the starting power forward spot.

Their other starters were Trae Young and Dejounte Murray in the backcourt and Clint Capela at center. They also entered the game completely healthy, leaving some confusion about why De’Andre Hunter was not playing.

Snyder cleared that up after the game.

“They’re going to be ready on Thursday,” Snyder said via the team. We’ll rest some guys over the course of the preseason, particularly when you have as many games as we have.”

This was one of five preseason contests for the Hawks with their next outing scheduled for October 12 against the Memphis Grizzlies. They will wrap up the exhibition slate on October 20 with a road tilt against the Philadelphia 76ers.

“We shut a few guys down at halftime,” Snyder said of the strategy. “It was good to … see some of the 16 guys get a chance to get out there and compete. You always look for that some in the preseason. But to have them have a chance to do that tonight, and to make plays, and to defend when it counted. And it was fun to see them just compete and get rewarded for it.”

The Hawks held a 12-point lead at halftime.

They allowed the Cavs to rally back and even take the lead in the second half with most of Atlanta’s key components planted on the bench for the night.

Trent Forrest saves the day for the Hawks in preseason opener

The Hawks’ leading scorer on the night was reserve guard Tent Forrest who finished with 13 points in the contest. He had just two points through most of the fourth quarter before closing with a flurry to end it.

Forrest scored 11 of the Hawks’ final 22 points, going 4-for-4 from the floor and 3-for-3 at the free throw line in the last five-plus minutes of the game. He hit the game-winning free throw attempt on an and-1 as time dwindled and rejected the would-be game-winner from the Cavs on the other end of the floor.

The former undrafted free agent appeared in 23 games with the Hawks last season, including three starts.

He did not score as many points in any of those games as he did in Tuesday’s opener.

Forrest is on a two-way contract, buried at what is arguably the Hawks’ deepest position given all the players they have that are capable of filling the role if not being natural point guards including Young and Murray.

This showing was a good way to remain in the organization’s good graces in the event they need someone, though. And other teams surely took note of his poise down the stretch.

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The more capable players the Hawks have the better, especially now as they manage minutes and create healthy competition amongst themselves.