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Hawks fall to Cavaliers 105-99 in first preseason loss

Atlanta Hawks v Cleveland Cavaliers Photo by David Liam Kyle/NBAE via Getty Images

The Atlanta Hawks were back in the states after playing their first two preseason games against the Milwaukee Bucks in Abu Dhabi. The Hawks headed to Cleveland to take on the Cavaliers in what seemed like a dress rehearsal for the team before the season starts.

Both teams started the game rusty, with a credit to their defenses. Dejounte Murray was able to get things going with his bread-and-butter mid-range shot.

With Bogdan Bogdanovic still recovering from knee surgery, AJ Griffin was the first player off the bench for the Hawks. Jalen Johnson, who missed the trip to Abu Dhabi, played his first minutes in the preseason for the team.

The Hawks utilized a unit of Young, Griffin, Justin Holiday, Johnson, and Onyeka Okongwu for the second half of the first quarter, and there were some good things to come out of it. Many fans were interested to see how Johnson may fit into his role, and he showed his ability to handle the ball and make a play on the break.

The Hawks offense was stagnant throughout most of the half, as shots were hard to come by due to the Cavs defense. On offense, the Cavs started to pick it up hitting several three-pointers to extend their lead.

De’Andre Hunter showed a few moves in the first half, using his strength to score in the paint.

The Hawks found themselves down as much as 18 points in the first half but slowly began to find some offensive juice. The Hawks trailed 51-41 going into halftime, shooting 26% from the field.

It was the John Collins show to start the third quarter, as he rang off ten early points to help the Hawks cut their deficit. Shots started falling for the Hawks after a while, and they continued to chip away at the Cavs lead.

Young pulled out his playmaking skills and found Griffin in the corner for a three. A few plays later, Young was able to get into the lane for a layup to tie the game.

Griffin continued his solid shooting in the fourth quarter, hitting a three to start, followed by Johnson hitting one of his own to give the Hawks the lead. It was then a back-and-forth battle between both teams as they traded buckets throughout the first half of the quarter.

After a strong showing throughout most of the game on the boards, Capela was ruled out due to a right thumb sprain, as Okongwu took over for him in the second half.

To close the quarter, Mamadi Diakite hit several shots to pull away from the Hawks, and that’s when Nate McMillan decided to pull the starters out of the game. Griffin, Johnson, Jarrett Culver, Vit Krejci, and Trent Forrest finished the game for the Hawks.

Young, Murray, Collins, and Hunter finished in double figures, while Clint Capela finished with eight points and 15 rebounds.

The Hawks will finish the preseason against the New Orleans Pelicans on Friday from Birmingham, AL.

Stay tuned.