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Hawks show possible sign of what’s to come in preseason loss to Miami

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And no, I don’t mean losing... Scoring the basketball was tricky at times for the Hawks.

NBA: Preseason-Atlanta Hawks at Miami Heat Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

The Atlanta Hawks dropped their preseason opener against the Miami Heat, 96-90, at the American Airlines Arena on Monday night.

It was certainly a scrappy game and a close game for the most part, with both teams exchanging blows in an effort to come out on top. Ultimately, a 35 point third quarter from the Heat (including an 8-0 run to finish the quarter) set them apart in this game (as well as their defense, which you have to give them a lot of credit for, which was fantastic at times) and they came out on top in this preseason exhibition.

But for the Hawks, it was the first competitive game of the season and the first opportunity to see the new squad play together — what stood out here for the Hawks in their first preseason game of the season?

Hawks’ offensive struggles

Most fans and pundits/experts alike who have been following this team and its moves across the summer identified offense as a potential area of concern for the Hawks for the upcoming season and after watching last night’s performance, those concerns seem to have value behind them.

Of course — and bear this mind as we carry through here — it was the first game of the season and the offense (among other things) will improve as time progresses...

The Hawks scored just 90 points on 35.6% shooting from the field (this is the more concerning stat) and 24% from behind the arc.

At times, we saw some good penetration from Dennis Schröder and some playmaking coming off of those drives, but we also saw a lot of aggressive defense played by Miami on Schröder, particularly from Josh Richardson — who blocked Schröder on multiple occasions — and Dennis could only muster a 6-of-17 shooting performance on his way to 12 points.

This is the kind of attention a lot of teams will be giving Schröder this season because, let’s be honest, if you can limit Schröder, you stand a great chance of beating the Hawks.

I’m sure some will attribute this off-shooting night to a lack of focus, perhaps, after his off-court issues in the build up to this game, but I thought it was more so the Miami Heat defense that deterred him more than off-court issues affecting his mindset — though that could’ve played a factor. We don’t know.

The real offensive struggles came with the second unit — they just struggled to find/create openings for themselves. They couldn’t really penetrate to create an opening and scoring was just hard for that second unit to come by.

I wouldn’t be against the idea of, perhaps, maybe playing Kent Bazemore in some second unit lineups, because he can work the defense a little and set up others at the same time (Baze created two scoring opportunities for Dewayne Dedmon last night), but I’m sure the second unit will figure things out in time.

In terms of team offense, the Hawks, at times, force fed the roll-man in pick-and-rolls (particularly to John Collins) when they had some shooters in better positions. This was more prevalent in the first half and seemed to be addressed at half time, as this didn’t happen as much in the second half.

No one really shot the ball well.

Other than Dewayne Dedmon (5-of-7 shooting), Quinn Cook (who had a solid game scoring 12 points on 4-of-7 shooting), Ersan Ilyasova (2-of-4 and has already drawn a charge), Miles Plumlee (who doesn’t really count, shot 1-of-1 in three minutes before a quad injury and was terrible even before that) and John Jenkins (2-of-4 in three minutes), no one shot over 50% from the field — and it was a lot of what will be the regular rotation.

We’ve mentioned Schröder: 6-of-17. Taurean Prince: 1-of-6. Kent Bazemore: 0-of-3 (though he did dish for three assists and played some pretty good defense). Mike Muscala: 1-of-4. Marco Belinelli: 1-of-6. John Collins: 2-of-6. Malcolm Delaney: 3-of-8. Nicolas Brussino: 0-of-4. Luke Babbitt: 2-of-6. Tyler Dorsey: 1-of-4.

It’s hard to ultimately make conclusions about the Hawks’ offense after just one game, (1) because it’s just one game and (2) the Hawks aren’t playing, what I would consider, an elite defensive team in the Miami Heat every night (though they do share the same division).

John Collins’ debut

The highly anticipated Hawks debut of 19th overall pick John Collins didn’t disappoint. Collins scored nine points and grabbed 15 (!!) rebounds in 19 minutes of play.

Though his Summer League scoring didn’t immediately translate, Collins’ hustle and activity did. Collins was scrappy and fought for every rebound and jump ball he could get involved with. That energy he preaches was there for all to see.

Lineup-wise, Collins was also deployed at the center spot which added some interest but we didn’t get to see him stretch the defense or showcase his jump shot this time around.

And, of course, Collins tried to dunk on everybody. Though he couldn’t posterize anybody on this occasion, he did finish with one highlight dunk in the fourth quarter.

Collins’ confidence was also encouraging.

His first basket was made on the block with a notable defender, Hassan Whiteside, guarding him. Collins didn’t care, and confidently rose over Whiteside and hit the jumper.

There’s a lot more to come from Collins, especially when his teammates deliver better passes on dives toward the basket. An encouraging start, for sure.

Dewayne Dedmon’s encouraging start

Another Hawks debutant who got off to an encouraging start was Dewayne Dedmon.

Dedmon was one of the Hawks’ better players on the floor last night (the most efficient if nothing else) — scoring 12 points on 5-of-7 shooting in 15 minutes of play.

Dedmon looked lively on the offensive end, both in the pick-and-roll and in transition where he ran the floor well:

Dedmon also attempted two (!!) three-pointers in this game, missing both. For reference as to why this is so shocking, Dedmon has attempted one three-pointer in the regular season in his four year career.

Defensively, Dedmon also looked solid, as the Hawks need him to be if they’re prioritising defense this season. Dedmon finished the game with two steals and a block.

Overall

A solid showing from the Hawks, who pushed the Heat — who are more than likely going to be a playoff team — pretty close for most of this game. Defensively, the Hawks got after it and showed promise on that end — it certainly kept them in this game when their offense sputtered.

Offensively, there’ll be improvements from everyone — you would imagine.

The Hawks are back in action on Wednesday when they’ll take on the Cleveland Cavaliers.