Dennis Schröder taking advantage of his opportunities
Schröder has taken advantage of his opportunity to play early in the season and is emerging as a key contributor off the bench. With Jeff Teague struggling, Mike Budenholzer elected to stick with Schröder during the fourth quarter and the second-year guard responded by leading the Hawks to a victory. Schröder talked at length during the preseason about earning Budenholzer's trust. It appears he has done that as he entered the fourth with more turnovers (4) than assists (3) and only two points. Yet there he was down the stretch with the opportunity to close out the game.
"I thought Dennis was playing well all night," said Budenholzer. "He gave us a big boost in the first half. Second half he gave us a big boost. Defensively he had a presence on the ball and was getting in the paint and creating problems, either finishing for himself or creating open shots. That's why you have a bench and you have depth."
Schröder was a big factor defensively as Atlanta limited Shane Larkin and Pablo Prigioni to five points on 2-7 shooting.
Offense was ugly but the three-pointer is the equalizer
Atlanta struggled to find any rhythm on the offensive end and were unable to play at the type of pace that they are accustomed to. New York came in 30th in the league in pace of play and the game reflected that, however the Hawks were able to pull out the win thanks to some timely three-pointers and a steady hand at the free throw line.
Atlanta shot just 38 percent from the field but were 10-27 from three-point range. Atlanta hit their average on Monday as they are third in the league in made threes per game. They also lead the league in three-point shooting percentage at 40.3 percent.
The Hawks didn't just fire away from the outside as they were able to put their heads down and get to the free throw line where they finished 27-28. By contrast, New York was just 7-12 from the charity stripe and that is how you overcome a tough shooting night from the field. After a slow start, the Hawks are now shooting 77 percent from the line as a team. Atlanta wasn't their normal peak selves offensively but they found a way to win.
Rotation shortened to nine players in the win
For most of the season the narrative has been not who was playing for the Hawks but who wasn't. With a roster full of options, it was clear during the preseason that everyone wouldn't be able to play. Budenholzer shortened the rotation to just nine players on Monday as Shelvin Mack received the DNP-CD. Kent Bazemore was also absent for the second straight game. Less minutes for those players has meant more minutes for Schröder as he shared the backcourt with Teague for a stretch.
It looks like Budenholzer is still searching for the best combination and what is working now might not be what we say a couple of weeks down the road. The most important takeaway to remember is to not expect to see more than 10 players play meaningful minutes on any night. That means two will be in suits and three will be dressed out on the bench but unlikely to play. Depth is a blessing and its not something that we are really used to seeing out of the Hawks.