DALLAS -- Ten observations from the Hawks 117-111 victory over the Mavericks in the season opener Wednesday ...
1. The Mavs cranked up their intensity after halftime and quickly trimmed an 11-point deficit. The Hawks matched their energy but the Mavs made a few challenged 3's as Atlanta’s offense bogged down. The reserves kept the Hawks in it with a spirited close to the third quarter, led by old pro Marco Belinelli.
Then Dennis Schroder made key plays down the stretch and Taurean Prince rebounded a missed Belinelli 3-pointer with the Hawks leading 113-111 and 14 seconds to go. He was fouled and made both free throws, then got a good challenge on Wesley Matthews' missed 3-point attempt. Dewayne Dedmon made two FTs to clinch it.
2. Coach Mike Budenholzer went with Belinelli instead of Kent Bazemore late in the game. Belinelli's 3-point threat created more space and the Hawks effectively attacked the basket while getting Dewayne Dedmon involved. But the Mavs easily got open looks from 3-point range and Harrison Barnes took advantage of Ersan Ilyasova, who then was replaced by Bazemore.
3. The offense was as advertised. The ball and players moved offensively for the most part. The Hawks screened frequently, attacked the basket and shook free for space in the mid-range. The Hawks also got out and ran (15 fast-break points in the first half) while still hitting the offensive boards.
4. Defensively, the Hawks were active, the help rotations were crisp and they were sharp on pick-and-rolls while switching up their coverages often. The 3-point defense wasn’t good, especially in the first half, and the Hawks were a bit fortunate that the Mavs missed several open looks.
5. Budenholzer wasn’t kidding about going deep into his bench. He said the other day that he was “open” to an 11-man rotation. He ended up playing 12 Hawks by halftime while liberally mixing and matching lineups. (Rookie Tyler Dorsey was the only active player who didn’t leave the bench.)
6. John Collins had a great NBA debut and was especially a dynamo over the final 6:37 of the first period. He entered the game and immediately made an impact. The Mavericks had a lot of trouble with Collins’ quickness and athleticism around the basket. Collins got caught out of position a few times defensively but managed to recover on some of those plays because of his quickness and length.
7. Belinelli (Achilles) was active after missing the final four exhibition games, with Budenholzer declaring him a “full go” for the game: “I think he’s always going to be somebody who comes in and changes the game a little bit offensively off the bench,” Budenholzer said before the game. That’s how it played out, with Belinelli looked rather spry while playing his crafty offensive game.
8. Schroder scored 28 points on 26 shots. That’s a lot of FGAs, and the ball stopped with him at times. But, in my view, he played under control for the most part and only forced a couple of shots. Schroder was getting to the basket pretty much whenever he wanted so probing the defense was effective.
9. The inactive Hawks players were Miles Plumlee (quad), Nicolas Brussino and new point guard Isaiah Taylor. Josh Magette, 27, made his NBA debut in the second quarter and sank a 3-pointer. The Hawks can keep two-way player Magette on the roster until Tuesday without using any of his 45-day limit in the NBA.
10. Taylor said he was glad to get “another opportunity, once again, to just prove myself and show the league what I can do.” He said he thinks the Hawks’ style of play fits him and that he can get up to speed quickly: "I think it’s kind of free-flowing. The coaching staff seems cool. I think they trust their players on the court a lot. That’s always good. They look for the players to use their athletic ability.”
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