MIAMI – The Heat’s defense may have stifled Atlanta Hawks star Trae Young throughout Sunday’s game 115-91 in Game One of the first-round series, but the East’s top seed knows he can’t expect Young and the eighth-seeded Hawks to go quietly.
“He’s going to score,” Heat striker PJ Tucker said of Young. “That’s one match. You look at it that way. Treat him the exact same way in the next match. Expect him to take a lot of shots and be more aggressive, so we have to bring in the same kind of energy and more of that. Because he’s going to be better.”
After averaging 31 points in a two-time Atlanta win in play to finish eighth, Young was immune on Sunday as he scored in a low 8-point playoff in a 1-for-12 shot (0-for-7 of 3) and made six (six) more assists decisive (four). His 8.3% shooting mark has been tied for the worst field goal percentage of his career — including the regular season and play-off games — according to ESPN Stats & Information research.
The Hawks scored the first three points of the game, but the Heat were all from there, with Miami advancing by 32 points in the fourth quarter. Aware of the quick turnaround from Friday’s win in Cleveland to Sunday’s local tip-off in Miami, Hawks coach Nate McMillan pulled off Young with two minutes, 34 seconds left in the third quarter and kept him on the bench for the rest of the season. Game.
“Miami played on another level,” Macmillan said. “We have to get to another level. There is another level of intensity where you can win every possession. We have to implement and evaluate every possession in these games.”
The Heat seemed convinced they would see a better version of Young in Tuesday 2.
Listen, he’s going to make more than one shot,” said Kyle Lowry who had 10 points and nine assists. “He’ll get more than four assists. He’ll explode. But we just have to be patient and stick to what we’re doing.”
Miami, which ranked fourth in the NBA in defensive rankings during the regular season, used substitution schemes on Young in an attempt to neutralize him when Atlanta tried to release him by placing screens on their primary defender. The Heat’s defense was bolstered by the return of Pam Adebayo, perennial nominee for Defensive Player of the Year, who overcame a recent COVID-19 bout to play for the first time since April 8.
“Keep him up front,” explained Jimmy Butler, who scored 21 points in a 9-for-15 shootout, when asked about Young’s Miami strategy. “It’s constantly breaking defenses and causing you to help, and if you don’t help, it’s wrong, [or] It is floating. And if you help, he hits the right guy every time [with a pass]. I think we did a great job of not polluting and moving our feet and staying ahead of him.”
The Heat turned 21 times against Young in Game 1, according to Second Spectrum, allowing for 0.8 points per live pick. During the regular season, Young averaged 0.96 points per live pick against all of the opposing defenses that turned against him, showing Miami’s experience in this division on Sunday.
“Everything is within reach,” Heat coach Eric Spoelstra said when asked about his team’s exit from Caleb Martin as Young’s primary defender, as the Heat did in the regular season, rotating the task Sunday. “All that is needed.”
Young acknowledged the fatigue that schedule caused, but admitted that Miami’s defense played a factor in tying his low water mark to the second-most of the three goals he attempted in an unchanged game.
“You sure feel like heavy legs, but you have to take credit for them,” Young said. “They came out strong, they came out with a lot of energy.”
Which is exactly the approach the Heat team expects from Young in trying to bounce back.
“It’s better to be on edge,” said Spoilstra. “You have to be on edge. This team can really score in groups. Obviously Trae Young can flare up at any time. So if you ever relax and suddenly hit a couple, that can turn into a lot. You have to respect that. .
“And our guys have that respect, but even with respect, even with his nervousness, he still can. That’s why we just have to be ready for Game 2 and somehow erase that memory and keep that edge.”
Young, who led Atlanta to a surprise appearance in the Conference Finals as the No. 5 seed last year when the Hawks took a 1-0 lead over the eventual champion Milwaukee Bucks before losing the series in six years, said the experience is a reminder of just how powerful the momentum can be. swings.
“You have to win four games to win a series, you’re not going to win one game and you win all of them,” Young said. “If that was the case, we would have been in the finals last year.”