Undefeated Hawks up for challenge vs. full-strength Nets
The Atlanta Hawks revamped their roster with the idea of giving star Trae Young more support and winning more consistently.
Although the Hawks have not been at full health, their offense is humming and they’ll attempt to improve to 4-0 Wednesday night when they visit the Brooklyn Nets for the first of two consecutive games.
The Hawks and Nets also will meet Friday.
Atlanta missed the playoffs for the third straight season when it finished 20-47 while Young increased his scoring average from his rookie season from 19.1 points to 29.6. When free agency began, the Hawks were among the more aggressive teams, adding Bogdan Bogdanovic, Rajon Rondo, and Danilo Gallinari to join Young and Clint Capela, who was acquired from Houston at last season’s trade deadline.
The Hawks have not been complete yet because Rondo and Capela did not make their debuts until Monday’s 128-120 win over Detroit, and Gallinari (left foot contusion) played 24 minutes in the season opener last Wednesday before sitting for the next two contests.
Even without full health, the Hawks are off their first 3-0 start since 2016-17 and seeking their first 4-0 start since starting 2010-11 with six straight wins. They’re averaging 124.7 points, shooting 48.2 percent and 41.6 percent from 3-point range.
Most of the offense is being supplied by Young, who is averaging 34 points on 53.1 percent shooting and 42.1 percent from 3-point range. He scored 29 points Monday when Atlanta shot 48.8 percent and hit 20 3-pointers
“Being 3-0 is great for us and for me it’s all about taking it one game at a time,” Young said. “We’re going up to Brooklyn to play a really good team and we need to bring the same energy and effort. I’m super excited about this team. Just need to get everyone healthy and it’ll be fun.”
The Nets opened the season impressively by getting big games from stars Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving in nationally televised blowout wins over Golden State and Boston.
Brooklyn has followed up those wins with a two-point loss at Charlotte on Sunday followed by a 116-111 overtime loss at home to Memphis on Monday.
Brooklyn played Monday after learning Spencer Dinwiddie would be lost for the season due to a knee injury. The Nets also rested Durant and Irving for the first time this season after the duo played 95 minutes apiece in the first three games.
Both are expected to play Wednesday and will attempt to get at least 20 points for the fourth straight game. Irving is averaging 29.3 points on 61.1 percent shooting while Durant is averaging 26.7 points on 53.2 percent shooting.
Without the duo out on Monday, Caris LeVert led the Nets with 28 points and 11 assists, although he missed a potential game-winning 3-pointer just before regulation ended.
“Obviously, we’re so early in the season, but again you definitely don’t want to drop games, especially like this, regardless of being short-handed whatever it is,” Brooklyn forward Joe Harris said. “We’re still trying to play the right way, we’re still trying to take steps in the right direction. And overall, the compete level was pretty high. We didn’t shoot particularly well. We haven’t particularly shot well the last couple of games, but I thought we competed better than we did against Charlotte.”
The Nets took three of four meetings last season from Atlanta and are 12-2 in the past 14 meetings. Young scored 47 in his only visit to Brooklyn when the Nets posted a 122-112 win on Dec. 21, 2019.
–Field Level Media