ATLANTA – Atlanta Hawks coach Nate McMillan was given permission by his coaching staff – as well as some fans on social media – to start on the field with just over five minutes left in a 132 win. -103 Wednesday night before the Charlotte Hornets.
“The coaches were screaming and shouting at me, ‘Get the boys out so we can give them a break!'” McMillan said with a smile. “But it’s time to play. It’s time to play. We should be ready when we get to Cleveland.”
Atlanta will take on the Cleveland Cavaliers on Friday, with the winner advancing to the Eastern Conference knockouts as eighth seed meeting first seed Miami.
If the Hawks play with the energy and fierceness they did in the third quarter, they can prepare for a second straight run at the convention finals, where the Milwaukee Bucks knocked them out last year in six games. .
Hornets striker Miles Bridges likes Atlanta’s chance if striker De’Andre Hunter and center Clint Capela, who are anchored in defence, score the way they did Wednesday.
Hunter had 22 points, including 16 in the third quarter when Atlanta overcame the Hornets 42-24. Capela finished with 15 points and 17 rebounds. The two also played only about 30 minutes in a game where Atlanta had a 26-point lead into the final half.
“If both play well in defence, they will be a tough game,” Bridges said. “They did it very well last year, and that’s why they’ve done it so far.”
Hunter in particular gave the Hawks the boost they needed with star guard Trae Young struggling from the field. Young made three of 13 first-half scoring attempts and finished 8 for 24.
“I’m aggressive and helping this team score goals will help this team a lot,” Hunter said.
Hunter’s scoring and defense caused problems for Bridges, who was sent off with 6:39 left after losing his temper while complaining about a call. Bridges’ frustration boiled over to the point where he hurled his mouth at a young fan, who taunted him as he headed towards the dressing room.
“I usually don’t let my emotions overwhelm me,” he said. “For me to be in one of the biggest games I’ve ever played and that to happen, that’s unacceptable to me.”
The disappointment is a tribute to how well Hunter and Hawks have played at both ends. They’re in such a flux that it’s easy to see why McMillan may have been away from the start for longer than his assistants wanted with Cleveland and then possibly the playoffs ahead.
But it’s the belligerence that the Hawks continue to display with the big lead that McMillan must like.
“When we take the lead, we get, like the coach [sometimes] Capela said, passively, “We need to continue to play at the highest level.”
https://www.espn.com/nba/story/_/id/33735650/atlanta-hawks-keep-foot-gas-play-rout-charlotte-hornets Atlanta Hawks keep gas in Charlotte Hornets’ inner journey