The streak is over.
Okay, that is a severely overdramatic lede, but the Atlanta Hawks suffered their first defeat of the preseason on Sunday evening, falling to the Miami Heat by a final score of 101-92. Let the panic begin.
The first half was, unquestionably, a good one for the home team. The Hawks scored 51 points on 42 field goal attempts, and while that isn't excellent by any stretch, the defense was strong in holding Miami to just 35% from the floor and 24% from three-point range. In addition, it was nice to see Kyle Korver (10 points, 2-2 3-PT in the half) get things going in the first 24 minutes, and in general, Atlanta looked crisp on both ends when attempting to reconcile what happens in preseason.
However, after the break, things were not quite as swell. Miami elected to play the second half without their starting group, but it certainly did not matter in the third quarter, as the Heat immediately erased what was an eight-point halftime deficit while turning it into a seven-point advantage by the end of the third quarter. Because much of the damage came against something resembling Atlanta's starting group, there was some cause for alarm (especially with 10 turnovers in the quarter), but at the same time, a preseason quarter is almost never cause for alarm.
With the third quarter as the impetus, the Heat were able to hold off the Hawks from ever making a serious second-half challenge. To be fair, it was a half played largely by backups (exclusively on the Miami side), and Mike Budenholzer seemed reticent to bring the starters back to make a late "charge". On the bright side, Mike Scott exploded for a 19-point, 8-rebound night in just 24 minutes, and that made up from so-so performances elsewhere on the bench.
Personnel wise, the Hawks held back Tiago Splitter and Dennis Schröder from action for rest purposes, but the biggest story may have been the absence of Justin Holiday. Holiday did not appear at any point during the game, and with players like Lamar Patterson receiving extended time, that is a story line worth monitoring, even if it was a planned absence that simply went unpublicized.
The Hawks will complete their home preseason slate with a match-up against the Memphis Grizzlies on Wednesday night, with the preseason finale in Detroit to come on Friday. Stay tuned.