Photo courtesy of hothothoops.com
The Hawks defeated the Miami Heat on Tuesday, by a score of 94-80, just two days after a tough loss against the same ball club. The time between games seemed longer, however, with the firing of Head Coach Lloyd Pierce and the promotion of Assistant Nate McMillan to Interim Head Coach.
Star point guard Trae Young was quiet before a strong push in the 4th, which contributed to an 18 and 10 double-double. Those 18 points were enough to lead the club in scoring, but it is clear based on the Heat scoring 80 points, the least that the Hawks have allowed all year, that this was a defensive victory.
Clint Capela, per usual, was front and center in this regard with his presence on the interior and his ten defensive rebounds. He added seven offensive boards en route to a ten-point double-double.
Overall, the Hawks dominated the battle on the boards. Their 11 offensive boards (a 34% offensive rebound percentage) were met by just five from Miami (12% OREB PCT). Atlanta held Miami to only three scorers in double-digits, which is highly impressive, even with the Heat playing without their star wing Jimmy Butler.
The Hawks have had major issues playing the full 48 minutes this year, and this game was no different. With 23 turnovers and losing the 3rd quarter by a score of 29-19, this was by no means a perfect nor complete game for Atlanta.
After two straight losses, however, the victory under Nate McMillan lays a solid foundation going forward. Nothing looked drastically different in this one compared to how the Hawks looked under Pierce; there were a few small changes, though. Rookie Onyeka Okongwu was more involved, as he logged 10 minutes and played in both halves. He was a positive in a good game for the bench, partly aided by Bogdan Bogdanovic’s return after an extended absence due to injury. Because of solid play from Okongwu, he and every other reserve for the Hawks had a positive plus-minus, a rarity of late.
Although this game was not super tight in the end, McMillan closed with the starters, except for Solomon Hill in for John Collins. Coach Pierce had received some criticism for not having Clint Capela in at the end of games, but many Hawks fans would probably like to see Collins and Capela close together, just as they man the frontcourt to start games.
It is unclear what from this game will continue under McMillan and what was only circumstantial, but his squad will be back in action Wednesday night in Orlando, looking to build on this victory.