The Bulls technically won this game 85-84 after Jimmy Butler hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer.
Which is nice for Chicago fans. It’s nice to win games. The problem with this for me is that the Hawks gave away this preseason game long before Butler’s 20 point fourth quarter.
Why am I almost completely ignoring the fourth quarter? Because this is the preseason and Joakim Noah, Jimmy Butler, and Pau Gasol leading a 20-point, fourth quarter comeback against John Jenkins, Jarell Eddie, and Adreian Payne doesn’t inspire much in terms of what we should expect from this Atlanta Hawks team. (besides that the Hawks clearly care more about resting their main players)
Here is what I did takeaway, though: Atlanta’s starters (sans Jeff Teague and Paul Millsap) and main bench players dominated Chicago’s rotation. The offense was not very efficient, but they were getting good looks, not turning the ball over, and scoring enough to overpower Chicago’s anemic offense.
Al Horford put up four points (2-for-6 shooting) in 16 minutes, but he also had six rebounds, two assists, and a steal. He looked like his usual great self on defense and was progressing the offense by immediately running defensive rebounds up the floor. His jumper is still a bit short, but that is something that should progress as he gets more meaningful minutes on the floor. Horford had a plus-12 rating for the game.
Dennis Schröder, who started in the place of Teague, played well, notching 11 points and six assists. Schröder still has a ways to go, but he established his quickness against one of the best defensive teams in basketball and was consistently able to get to the rim. He doesn’t always score once he gets to the basket, but his ability to get there is something that a pro basketball team can work with nonetheless.
Other positives were Pero Antic and Elton Brand, who are still looking to shake off some of the poor play that they showed in the postseason against the Indiana Pacers. Brand was spectacular at using his length great effect on defense, and Pero similarly used his spacing to open up holes on offense. The two main backup centers definitely did there jobs in this contest.
Thabo Sefolosha also showed some promise again. He is known for his defense, but Coach Budenholzer and this offense are definitely giving him more opportunities to be creative. Thabo displayed a couple of spin moves on drives to the basket tonight, both of which were effective. He only made one of the layups, but he successfully beat the defense on both drives.
Kyle Korver took six 3-pointers in just 15 minutes, which is going along with the preseason theme of him getting more shots up than usual. Hopefully this is something that continues, as Korver taking good shots is never a bad thing.
For negatives, there is still the problem that Mike Scott is dreadful on defense. He did score 15 points, but until he really improves on the defensive side of the floor, it is always going to be like that; he is going to have to perform well enough on offense to make up for his poor defensive performance.
Adreian Payne still has a lot to do on offense before he can call himself an NBA player. Defensively, I like where he fits in.
Hawks are now (officially) 2-2 in the preseason. Their next game in Saturday night against Josh Smith and the Pistons.