Coming off a trip to the Eastern Conference Finals, Atlanta is out to an uninspiring 4-5 start to the season. Their offense has remained top-10 — despite Trae Young struggling to find his shot (25.5% on 3-pointers) — but the defense is bottom five and leading to losses like the 116-98 thrashing at the hands of the Utah Jazz Thursday.
Young said part of the problem is the Hawks seem a little bored by the regular season, as reported by The Athletic’s Chris Kirschner.
Trae Young on the difficulty of sacrificing early in the season: "I think guys are learning that. We're no longer the hunters. It's regular season. I'm not going to lie, it's a lot more boring than the playoffs. You got to find that motivation to play like the playoffs."
— Chris Kirschner (@ChrisKirschner) November 5, 2021
Insert your favorite “reduce the regular season” argument here.
The Hawks jumped out of the gate to a 3-1 start against a softer schedule but have dropped 4-of-5 with losses to quality teams such as Philadelphia, Brooklyn, and now Utah. Throw in some slumping players such as Young, Kevin Huerter, and Danilo Gallinari and it’s tough to win games.
Trae Young has a point, the adjustment from an upstart that can surprise teams to a team circled on an opponent’s schedule is a big change, and it requires more out of a squad nightly. The Hawks have not brought that on the end of the floor where effort really shows — defense. You know that frustrates coach Nate McMillan.
Nate McMillan: "I can’t give minutes, you have to earn them. That’s what I’ll start to do more of, if you’re not giving it to this team on both ends of the floor, then we’ll rotate some guys in."
— Sarah K. Spencer (@sarah_k_spence) November 5, 2021
Things do not get easier for the Hawks, who are heading out on a four-game road trip through the West with the Warriors, Suns, and Nuggets on the docket.