The entire NBA is focused on the upcoming trade deadline and that presumably extends to the Atlanta Hawks. In fact, Tuesday was chocked full of rumors surrounding the team, from fire-sale buzz to potential no-trade clause complications and the pre-game choice to remove Marco Belinelli from the equation on the eve of a potential deal.
Still, there was basketball to play and the Hawks took care of business. Atlanta trailed for only a few seconds in a 26-point thrashing of the Memphis Grizzlies and while some of the margin could certainly be attributed to the struggles of the visitors, it was a strong performance from the home team.
Memphis committed a mind-blowing 27 turnovers in the loss and that was a significant factor in the final outcome.
“We just wanted to be active,” head coach Mike Budenholzer said postgame. “And I think sometimes your activity speeds other teams up. You may speed a player up, whatever his comfort spot is. Hopefully, our activity led to some transition, led to us playing faster. I thought guys were just active and very competitive defensively tonight.”
The Hawks held the Grizzlies to a dismal 84.0 offensive rating and that included 43 percent shooting from the floor and an ugly 4 of 22 (18 percent) showing from beyond the arc.
“As a whole, the defensive intensity was turned up tonight,” Hawks rookie big man John Collins said. “There’s something about us against Western Conference teams at home. We came out with intensity, forced them to turn the ball over and we executed on the other end.”
As Collins notes, the Hawks have won six consecutive games against Western Conference opponents and seven in a row against those squads at Philips Arena. Of course, that is largely coincidental but Atlanta has been better (12-16) at home than many expected and that manifested in a significant way on Tuesday evening.
Dennis Schröder led the way offensively with 22 points on 9 of 15 shooting in 25 minutes and he was able to take advantage of a porous Memphis defense. In support, Collins produced a 15-point, 10-rebound double-double in reserve duty and, as a team, the Hawks finished with an impressive 51 percent shooting clip from the floor on the way to a 110.7 offensive rating.
In many respects, this particular performance was not one that is likely to be memorable for the Hawks, even if it was a positive one on the eve of the deadline. With the focus of the league (and much of the fan base) on the transactional nature of the league coupled with a sleepy Tuesday night contest, it is almost impressive that Atlanta was able to lock in, defend, and take full advantage of what appeared to be an inferior opponent.
“We got outworked,” Grizzlies head coach J.B. Bickerstaff exclaimed after the game. “There’s no other way around it.”
The Hawks played well on Tuesday. The Grizzlies did not. Sometimes, it’s just that simple.