The Hawks returned rejuvenated from the all-star break in the team’s first game without former head coach Nate McMillan and pulled off a 136-119 win over the Cavaliers Friday at State Farm Arena. A 49-point second quarter gave the Hawks a comfortable margin as interim head coach Joe Prunty guided the team, who could be on the verge of hiring a replacement for McMillan after he was fired this week.

Here are five observations:

1. The Hawks (30-30) got off to a slow start but dialed things up midway through the first quarter. Prunty rolled with the teams’ starters a little longer and they found their groove toward the end of the opening period. The Hawks took a 15-14 lead with just over five minutes remaining by keeping three of five starters in, along with Onyeka Okongwu and Bogdan Bogdanovic. They sent Trae Young, who sat for a brief stint, back into the game to help navigate the second unit through the remaining four minutes of the quarter.

Young and the second unit sparked a huge swing for the team. Dejounte Murray kept things rolling, with 15 second-quarter points.

The Hawks scored 49 points in the second quarter making 81.8% of their shots and 71.4% of their attempts from 3-point range. It was the most points the Hawks scored in a quarter through 60 games. The Hawks led 81-57 at intermission.

“In that second quarter, we were getting stops, and we were getting out and creating some easy opportunities,” Prunty said.

2. The Cavs used an 8-0 run early in the third quarter and it forced Prunty to take a timeout. The Hawks came out of the timeout and scored seven unanswered points to get back on track.

In the team’s practices following the all-star break, the Hawks tried to address some of the issues that plagued them in an inconsistent season. They put an emphasis on generating offense from their defense, which allowed them to get back up to a 32-point lead with 4:32 left in the third.

“It’s always (a learning experience), Prunty said. “As soon as you think you know everything, you learn real quick that you don’t.”

3. With the Hawks clicking on the defensive end, it led to strong ball movement on the offensive end. The Hawks’ balanced scoring kept the Cavaliers, the NBA’s top defense, chasing them all night.

The Hawks took 28 3-point attempts. Prunty would have liked to seen a few more attempts from distance. The Hawks shot 15 of 28 from distance. Young and Saddiq Bey combined to go 9 of 15 from long range. With 6:45 remaining in the third quarter, Young picked off a pass from Darius Garland and took the ball down court. He pulled up as three Cavaliers flew by him then hit the wide open 3-pointer to give the Hawks a 101-69 lead.

“When you’re mixing in stops and getting out and pushing the ball, you’re able to score a lot of points, especially with the guys we got,” Young said. “So it was a big effort tonight on a defensive end.”

Young finished wih 34 points and eight assists. Murray finished with 25 points, eight assists and nine rebounds.

4. Post game, Prunty praised the team. He emphasized that they would now need to carry the performance over into their upcoming games. Young echoed that as well.

The Hawks, now back at .500, have a lot of ground to make up over the final 22 games if they look to secure a playoff spot in the top six and avoid the play-in tournament. Consistency has eluded the Hawks this season and they look to carry their momentum against the Nets on Sunday.

“It’s one game,” Young said. “It looks like we did what we’re supposed to over the break and get our minds right and get ready to come out with a good start.”

5. Per reports from ESPN and The Athletic, the Hawks have neared a deal with their leading head coach candidate, Quin Snyder. The deal will reportedly be in the $8 million per year range, though the length of the contract was not reported. General manager Landry Fields named Snyder as a candidate following the firing of McMillan.

Stat to know

The Hawks opened the second quarter making 15 consecutive shots, becoming the first team in the NBA to connect on at least 15 straight baskets in a quarter since the Spurs on March 17, 2018 (15, second quarter).


“It’s one game. It looks like we did what we’re supposed to over the break and get our minds right and get ready to come out with a good start.” -- Trae Young on the Hawks’ performance Friday.

Up Next

The Hawks host the Nets for the first time since the trades of Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving on Sunday afternoon at State Farm Arena.