Trae Young defends Hawks' 'identity' after loss to Cavaliers

The Atlanta Hawks' latest loss had Trae Young explaining some of the things that come along with the team's style of play.
Atlanta Hawks point guard Trae Young
Atlanta Hawks point guard Trae Young / Jason Miller/GettyImages

The Atlanta Hawks were shorthanded against the Cleveland Cavaliers. But the loss stings all the same, especially because it was their sixth in the last seven games and dropped them to 10-15 on the season.

Atlanta boasts the NBA’s fourth-best offensive rating. But their defense checks in 27th this season, their lowest ranking since the 2019-20 season. 

Asked if their offensive pace -- fourth-highest in the NBA -- feeds into their defensive struggles, Trae Young pushed back.

“That's just how we play. When it works, it works. When it doesn't, it doesn't,” Young said via the team. “When you have an identity of how you play, I mean we're one of the top scoring teams in the league for a reason. And we play fast, and get the ball out, and we hit shooters, and guys knock down shots.”

The Hawks shot 48.2% from the floor and 41.7% from beyond the arc.

Those were their 13th and sixth-best efficiency marks of the season, respectively. But they also allowed the 16th and 13th-best efficiency marks by their opponents to the Cavaliers.

The Hawks have adopted a three-point-heavy approach under Head Coach Quin Snyder.

Those types of offenses are prone to defensive lapses -- especially in transition -- and getting outdone on the glass. And those lapses are magnified when you're missing as many pieces as the Hawks were.

“Sometimes – when you turn the ball over, when shots don't go in early on – they get out in transition and score fast, and sometimes it's just those type of nights,” Young said. “You never want to have those type of nights. But it was like that early on in the game we dug ourselves too much in a hole.”

The Hawks were just minus-1 in the turnover margin. But they were minus-3 in points off turnovers.

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In a game that featured just two lead changes, the Hawks could get out no further than by one point. They faced deficits as large as 23 points, though that was in the first half. They outscored the Cavs 67-57 in the second half.

So what was the big adjustment at halftime? Giving "a s***," said Young.

“Just to pick it up, like the energy. I mean it's not necessarily all the time schemes,” Young said. “It's more about effort and energy and just sometimes giving a s***. And that's just what it is sometimes, and that helps your defense. And I think that's what we did in that third quarter and got us back into the game and cut the lead down.”

It is in that comeback effort that Young is choosing to find positives as the Hawks go back to the drawing board, trying to stop this slide.

“We cut it down to single digits at one point and that helped,” Young said. “We just got to learn from it.”

The Hawks will host the Detroit Pistons on December 18. Detroit comes in having lost 23 straight outings, putting pressure on the Hawks to not let the streak be snapped against them.