Much of the preseason for the Atlanta Hawks has been highlighted by wide swings in terms of production for the club as a whole, and it was no different during the team's overtime victory over the Charlotte Hornets on Monday night at Philips Arena.
In terms of pluses, the Hawks went on a 20-0 run between the end of the first and the beginning of the second quarters in the game, and when things were clicking, the offense was firing on all cylinders. However, the second half was highlighted by a similar swoon in which the team converted only 13 of 42 field goal attempts in the third and fourth quarters before awakening in overtime to hold on for the victory.
Here are some additional takeaways from the victory:
- Dennis Schröder was very, very good on Monday night. The second-year point guard finished the night with 12 points and 5 assists in just over 24 minutes of action, and he was the backup point guard of choice for Mike Budenholzer, including a long stretch to conclude the game in "crunch time". Schröder played under control for the duration of the night, committing only 2 turnovers while flashing the speed and explosiveness that make him a high-end prospect. In the post-game, Dennis was quick to say that his confidence is "through the roof" at the moment, citing Budenholzer's willingness to entrust him with the reins to the team, and the head coach praised his point guard by saying that he was "very pleased with the progress (Dennis) is making."
- Al Horford is still Al Horford. There was clearly a semi-strict plan in place for Horford's playing time on this night, as he was replaced by Elton Brand at virtually the same point in both the first and third quarters, but the big man played 24 minutes while posting 10 points and 6 rebounds, and Horford was tied for the game-best in plus/minus rating (with Dennis Schröder), as the Hawks were 20 points better with him on the floor.
- Both Mike Muscala and Adreian Payne received the "DNP - Coach's Decision" distinction in this game, and Budenholzer was quick to point out in the pregame that everyone on the roster was "available" in this match-up. This isn't cause for panic in terms of future playing time, especially in the case of Muscala, but it is worth noting that Elton Brand received extended minutes in a game that did not feature a dominant post scorer on the opposing roster.
- Thabo Sefolosha and Kent Bazemore both performed well at times, though Sefolosha appears to be comfortably ahead on the depth chart right now. That certainly isn't a surprise given the pedigree of both players, but Thabo was highly productive (12 points, 8 rebounds, 5 assists) in his less than 20 minutes of playing time, and he provides the length and defensive acumen that was sorely needed from that roster spot a year ago.
- Mike Scott still isn't shy about shooting the basketball. At times during the game, Scott functioned as the team's number one option offensively when playing with the second unit, and he attempted six threes in 24 minutes of playing time. Positively, Scott converted four of those six attempts from beyond the arc, and it will be crucial for the forward to improve on his 31% output from 3-point distance last season.
- On the whole, the offensive ball movement was encouraging. Atlanta assisted on 27 of their 38 made field goals in the game, and while that movement clearly stagnated at times in the second half, it is worth noting that Budenholzer did deploy some lineups that likely won't see the light of day in the regular season. Jeff Teague was very quiet in 18 minutes, but that is probably a product of wanting to see more of Schröder and Shelvin Mack, and Budenholzer was complimentary of both players in the post-game, stating repeatedly that they played "well" in their own respects.