Hawks’ Wesley Matthews reacts to making history in loss to Heat

Atlanta Hawks, Wesley Matthews. Mandatory Credit: Jordan Godfree-USA TODAY Sports
Atlanta Hawks, Wesley Matthews. Mandatory Credit: Jordan Godfree-USA TODAY Sports /

It was a tough loss for the Atlanta Hawks who fell to the Miami Heat at home, 117-109 in the debut of their new City Edition uniforms. One of the bright spots, however, was veteran Wesley Matthews making his debut with the team. In doing so, he joined his father, Wes Matthews, as the first father-son duo to play for the Hawks in franchise history.

“I didn’t know that,” Matthews said, per Kevin Chouinard or Hawks.com on November 11. “It’s a blessing. God will write the story, and I’m just trying not to mess it up… It’s something that will be a memory for our family.”

Matthews signed a one-year, $3.2 million contract with the Hawks in the latter stages of the offseason.

He missed the first eight games while dealing with a strained calf.

The elder Matthews averaged 8.2 points, 4.1 rebounds, 1.5 rebounds, and 1.2 steals in five seasons with the Hawks split between two separate stints in the 80s and early 90s. In his debut, Matthews logged seven points and two rebounds in seven-plus minutes. He did have one turnover and committed three personal fouls.

But the 37.6% career shooter from deep knocked in both of his looks from beyond the arc.

He also seemed to take the role of second-year wing AJ Griffin.

Griffin has now been a healthy scratch in three of the last four games, a stark dropoff from a player who showed so much promise early on as a rookie last season. He could have a tough time locking up any minutes, let alone a substantial role with Matthews now healthy.

Quin Snyder: Hawks passed on ‘open looks’

Atlanta attempted a season-high 46 triples on the night. Still, head coach Quin Snyder took to the podium after the game lamenting the shots they didn’t take.

“We had some open looks that we didn’t take,” Snyder said via the team. “If you’ve got those, you have to take them because there’s a good chance you’re driving into bodies. And if you get in the lane, then you have to have poise, and play off two feet, and use fakes, and do all those things in order to find other people.”

“We didn’t do that on the level we needed to by any means,” Snyder said. “I think that’s that’s why you see … 21 turnovers. A lot of those came on our penetration.”

The Hawks had more makes and attempts from deep than the Heat did, and they were plus-9 on the glass. But they were also 18-of-36 in the paint and minus-6 in the turnover battle, struggling to break through the Heat’s defense.

“We just got to shoot the ball,” Young said.

“When we catch the ball, just shoot it. We don’t got to hesitate. And when guys get the ball, we just got to catch and shoot it. We’re looking to get into the paint and get into the drives, and that’s not what they’re going to allow. They’re going to allow you to shoot threes and allow you to shoot contested threes and you just got to be ready to shoot it.”

This wasn’t some fluke occurrence with the Heat’s defensive prowess well-known. They performed similar heroics against the Hawks in the postseason in 2021-22.

“They just make you think and make you think you have a driving lane and then another guy is over there helping,” Young said. “So if you’re not ready to shoot threes against this team, you’re going to have a tough night.”

Young finished with 27 points, 11 assists, two rebounds, and one steal.

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He also led the team with five turnovers and was just 3-for-9 from downtown. Young has shot 33.3% or worse in six of nine games this season. His next shot to be more efficient will come on November 14. They will face the Detroit Pistons on the road in their first In-Season Tournament contest of the season.