The starting lineup for the Atlanta Hawks in the first preseason game of the year included Jeff Teague, Kyle Korver, Kent Bazemore, Paul Millsap, and Al Horford. The Hawks opened up with an early lead, but the Cavaliers kept it close throughout the first after J.R. Smith tied with a 3-pointer. The second quarter was much of the same for the Hawks who were able to pull away, and the bright spot for the Hawks in the half was Jeff Teague, who had 15 points, 3 rebounds, and an assist. They would take a 50-40 lead into the half.
The Cavaliers were able to narrow the lead in the third quarter, due to the Hawks going cold on offense, scoring just 17 points in the quarter. Al Horford had 9 of the 17 points for the Hawks in that time. Timofey Mozgov had 7 of his own points to counter Horford for the Cavaliers. In the fourth quarter, we saw plenty of Edy Tavares, who initially started slow, but was able to find a groove, scoring all 11 of his points in the quarter. The Cavaliers made it close in the final seconds, but it wasn't enough, as the Hawks held on for a 98-96 win.
3 things we learned:
This team is deep. Tiago Splitter and Tim Hardaway Jr. were the first players off of the bench for the Hawks. Shelvin Mack, Dennis Schröder, Justin Holiday, all saw the floor before Mike Muscala, which should be a good sign for Hawks fans. As much as Muscala contributed at the end of last season, it says something about the guys that have been brought in for them to get in the game ahead of Moose.
When the Hawks starters played like they did in the first half, it makes it easier to go to the bench, but it's a plus when you can have confidence in that bench. This is really the first good look we have gotten, so everything here should be taken with a grain of salt, but it really does appear that the Hawks have a bench more than capable of handling themselves when it's their turn to step up.
Dennis Schröder looked improved. Sure, it's the first game of the preseason, and there are perhaps some players we are seeing on the floor for both sides that we might never see in the regular season, but when Schröder was in the game against the best that the Cavaliers had to offer, his speed from baseline to baseline looked unmatched. While he didn't stuff the stats sheet, we saw good things out of Dennis.
Schröder seemed less timid to take 3-point shots, which wasn't necessarily a strong suit of his last year. If Schröder can add that to his game, he becomes just that much more valuable to the Hawks, who already have a formidable starter in Jeff Teague, who might have been the most impressive Hawk on the floor.
Lamar Patterson is the favorite for the 15th roster spot. After we saw appearances from Splitter, Hardaway, Schröder, Holiday, and Muscala, the next Hawk we saw was Lamar Patterson, and he would get the most minutes out of any of the players contending for that final spot. Terran Petteway was really the only other guy competing for the final spot to get considerable minutes in this one.
In the time that he played, Patterson totaled just 2 points and 1 rebound. He started for the Hawks over Kyle Korver to begin the second half, which was a good sign in his favor. Terran Petteway appeared to be more efficient than Patterson, but based off of the minutes, and when he was placed in the game, it's clear that the final spot is Patterson's to lose.