The Hawks lost their first game of the season last night on the road to the Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant-led Brooklyn Nets, but even in defeat, they passed the eye test with flying colors in what was possibly the most entertaining game of the season thus far.
Trae Young was once again electric, leading Atlanta’s offensive onslaught with 30 points and 11 dimes. John Collins also had a 30-point double-double, and Bogdan Bogdanović provided the spark off the bench with 22 points, thanks to his six three-pointers on eleven attempts.
The game was neck and neck for 48 minutes, and stops were nearly impossible to come by. The difference between the two sides might have been Danilo Gallinari, who exited the game in the first quarter with an ankle injury and never returned. Still, the Hawks had a chance to win down the stretch, but Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant seemingly could not miss in the fourth quarter, making tough shot after tough shot and squeaking out a four-point victory. However, while I’m never one to boast about moral victories, the Hawks proved they are going to be a force to be reckoned with this season, and Durant was not hesitant in praising Atlanta’s new-look squad after their first matchup.
“… They are going to be a team to be reckoned with this season.”
– Kevin Durant on the Atlanta Hawks.
— Chris Milholen (@CMilholenSB) December 31, 2020
Durant also had some high praise for John Collins, who delivered his best performance of the season when the Hawks needed it most.
Kevin Durant calls John Collins "the best in the league" at slipping screens.
— Matt Brooks (@MattBrooksNBA) December 31, 2020
It may only be four games into the regular season, but the potential for the Hawks to not only make the playoffs but also make some noise when they get there is overwhelmingly evident. They are impossible to guard and as deep as any team in the association. Atlanta isn’t even close to healthy, and this group hasn’t even had time to develop any meaningful chemistry. The Hawks are a team that will only improve as the season goes on, and they’ve already shown they can compete with anyone in the Eastern Conference.