Hawks perimeter defense tested in second-best 3-point shooting team

The Hawks have another test on Monday night when they face the Cavaliers in Cleveland. Like their contests against the Bucks, Jazz and Celtics, the Hawks could struggle on Monday should they fail to secure the perimeter.

The Cavaliers rank second in the NBA in 3-point shooting percentage after knocking down 39.1% of their shots from deep. Much of that has come from the blazing hot start of the Cavaliers’ All-Star backcourt of Darius Garland and Donovan Mitchell.

Both guards are knocking down at least 40% of their shots from long range on seven or more attempts per game.

Mitchell is tied for eighth in the NBA in triples made this season (53) and is shooting a career-high 40.5% (53-131) from deep.

“Everybody knew they were going to be really good,” Hawks guard Trae Young said. “Everybody knew they’re gonna bring a lot of offensive explosiveness to the team. They can both score and get their teammates the ball and both can make plays. So, you gotta be ready to take care of both of them.”

Through 16 games, the Hawks rank 16th in the NBA in contesting 3-pointers, averaging 20 per game. So far this season, the Hawks have given up 14 or shots from deep in five of their games so far this season. In fact, they are 3-5 when they allow their opponent to make 10 or more shots from long range.

While Mitchell and Garland pose quite the threat, the Hawks will also have their hands full with last season’s runner-up for rookie of the year, Evan Mobley, as well as Jarrett Allen. Both big men have been strong for the Cavaliers on both ends of the floor.

The two’s length and size could give the Hawks trouble when they look to attack the basket. The Hawks score 13.2% of their shots from midrange, with 61% of their points coming on 2-pointers, which leads the league.

So, the Cavaliers could force the Hawks outside, where they have had plenty of trouble. The Hawks are 21-of-77 (27.2%) from 3-point range over the last three games.

Unfortunately for the Hawks, they may have to face the Cavaliers without one of their top perimeter defenders. The team listed forward De’Andre Hunter as questionable for Monday night’s game with a non-COVID illness.

The Hawks and Cavaliers tip off at 7 p.m. on Monday.