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The defense in this game by the Hawks was horrendous, and a team that averages 106.7 points per game put up 118 points. The Hawks gave up wide open shots continuously throughout this game and are quite lucky to have only given up 118.
This loss could have been much worse because the Thunder missed several open threes. The Thunder attacked the lane relentlessly, and the lack of wing defenders in Cam Reddish and Deandre Hunter made it tough on the Hawks interior defenders like Clint Capela because stepping up on the driving guards gave up several wide-open layups on back cuts.
Trae Young had a very uncharacteristic night; he only scored 17 points on 33 percent shooting, and he did not attempt a single free throw. Trae appeared indecisive throughout the whole game, causing him to miss several layups that he usually converts. Young also appeared to be injured slightly towards the end of the 4th quarter, which is something to keep an eye on for our upcoming game against the Heat on Sunday.
One bright spot for the Hawks was Clint Capela. He grabbed 21 rebounds and put up 17 points and 4 blocks. John Collins was also quite efficient on the offensive end as well scoring a game high 25 points. There are several questionable lineups that Lloyd Pierce continues to put out on the floor because he has limited options due to injuries. Whenever Danilo Gallinari is on the floor without Clint Capela, the interior defense is atrocious, and the opponent can score at ease in the paint. The Hawks must improve on the defensive end if they want to compete for a playoff spot because in games, like tonight, where the three-point shooting is lacking, wins come on the defensive end and in the paint; the Hawks were beaten handily in both of these categories tonight.
There will be down nights shooting the ball, but there needs to be compensation with more energy on defense by causing turnovers, winning the hustle plays, and closing out more quickly on three-point shots. Overall, the Thunder exposed our lack of defensive knowledge and communication with wonderful ball movement and drive and kick out plays.
The Hawks’ switches on screens and closeouts were both slow allowing easier shots for a Thunder team that does not usually have a 52 percent field goal percentage.
I will give credit to the young Thunder players, however, because their ball movement was quite good most of the night. They did not settle for tough, contested shots, and they made the extra pass to find open shots and tally 31 assists as a team tonight.
The Hawks did not have the greatest offensive night, but it was not a terrible performance considering the number of players we have injured at the moment. The Hawks, however, took many heavily contested shots that were rushed towards the end of the shot clock because the offense was stagnant at times. Many times, the other players on the court end up watching Trae Young or the other ball handlers, and they do not move without the ball. The ball did not swing from side to side, and the isolations outside of the lane were ineffective tonight. Collins and Capela showed great energy on both sides of the ball, but if the Hawks want to win more games the whole team needs to bring that same energy for a full 48 minutes.