Overlooked because of the trade that happened yesterday with the Knicks involving Cam Reddish, Wednesday was a big day for the Hawks. Not only did they return home after a lengthy road trip to face a division rival, but they also welcomed De’Andre Hunter back to the floor following a two month absence with a wrist injury.
The game didn’t go as the Hawks would have liked. After a promising start on the defensive end, the Heat unloaded from behind the arc, seemingly breaking the Hawks’ will in the process. By halftime, Miami had built a six-point lead, but Hawks’ fans could easily looks past that because of the way Hunter played in his first few minutes back.
The third-year wing tallied 13 first-half points, making all three of his three-point attempts. Given everything the Hawks have been through recently, Hunter’s impressive return was probably the best thing to happen to the team in months, but that high was short-lived.
The Heat came out firing in the second-half, scoring the first 16 points before the Hawks finally answered. At that point, the game was all but over. Trae Young never got anything going, finishing with just 15 points and five assists — arguably his worst performance of the season. And outside of Hunter, the bench provided next to nothing.
The only Hawks player that played decently was John Collins, who seemed to have an extra burst after reports surfaced that he is frustrated with his role. That may be true, but it didn’t affect his energy on the floor. In what was a mostly lifeless effort by the Hawks, Collins stood out as the one player giving it his all — both on the floor and with his liveliness on the bench — finishing the night with 16 points and 11 rebounds.
For the Hawks, the glass half full perspective is that Hunter came back, looked good, and stayed healthy. However, I’m not sure you can look at things from the glass half full perspective with this team any longer. Substantial changes appear to be looming following the Reddish trade, and they are needed. This is not a playoff-caliber team right now, and if this kind of losing continues for much longer, it may be time for Travis Schlenk to start looking towards the future.