Five observations from the Hawks’ 105-99 victory over the Raptors Friday night.
1. The Hawks have not defended the 3-point line well all season.
They did Friday.
The Raptors shot just 4 of 25 from long range with DeMar DeRozan going 1 of 8.
“Coach told us he was watching film yesterday,” Dennis Schroder said. “He told us going into the playoffs we have to take the 3 away. That’s what we tried to do. We did a great job with it but we still have to get better.”
The Hawks snapped a streak of six straight – and 13 of 14 – games of an opponent making double-digit 3-pointers. The Hawks had allowed 95 3-pointers in those six games.
The Hawks entered the game second-worst in the NBA in opponent 3-pointers made and attempted.
“Point of emphasis,” Paul Millsap said. “We are in the bottom half of giving up 3-point shots. We have to get the 3-point shooters and get them off the line. We did that tonight.”
Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer and teammates credited the defensive effort of Kent Bazemore and Thabo Sefolosha on DeRozan.
2. The Hawks won with little scoring from the bench. The reserves totaled just 15 points – just 14 percent of the offense.
The bench was scoreless in the first half in 32 minutes. The first points came when Sefolosha scored with 7:02 left in the third quarter.
3. Schroder was strong down the stretch. He finished with 13 fourth-quarter points as the Hawks were able to pull away late. The point guard was 7 of 8 from the free-throw line, the one miss snapping a string of 24 consecutive makes dating back to the game against the Magic on Feb. 25.
“He collapses the defense,” Budenholzer said. “He creates offensive rebound opportunities. At some point, they start switching. Paul (Millsap) drives to the basket and gets the fifth foul on (Serge) Ibaka on the switch. That’s a tough cover for a point guard on Paul. Lots of things between Paul and Dennis. They create good situations for us.”
4. Tim Hardaway Jr. returned to the starting lineup after Sefolosha was held out for disciplinary reasons. The wing finished with 20 points on 8 of 13 shooting, including 3 of 5 from 3-point range. He has now scored in double figures in 20 consecutive games. It’s the longest streak by a Hawks players since Millsap did so in 25 games last year.
Hardaway also extended his streak of consecutive games with a 3-pointer to 17 games
5. The Hawks got an important victory. The win gives them the season series over the Raptors, 2-1. The Hawks have won the past two games against the Raptors following a 44-point defeat early in the season.
The Raptors are currently fourth in the Eastern Conference, two games ahead of the fifth-place Hawks. Head-to-head record is the first tiebreaker for teams that finished with identical winning percentages.
“For us, it’s a big game because it’s the Eastern Conference and they are top five,” Millsap said. “It’s a good quality win for us. I’m glad we got it. Coming down the stretch it might come in handy.”