The Cavaliers’ Donovan Mitchell exploded in the second quarter and carved the Hawks up after returning from a rest to close the period. He blew right by the Hawks’ AJ Griffin and drew a foul after the sophomore wing tried to recover. Then he drew a foul off Trae Young, made the free throws, then knocked down a 3 that cut the Hawks lead to two.
Despite a timeout from the Hawks to try and slow Mitchell’s scoring, the Cavs guard proved far from done. He ended the night with 40 points on 14-of-25 shooting, his most efficient night from the floor since Nov. 15.
As Mitchell heated up, it lit up the Cavs offense and the Hawks just could not execute defensively and it seeped into their offensive production.
“That gets back to collectively executing, whether it be transition defense, pick-and-roll defense, spacing, cutting all those things, right now just they’re essential,” Hawks coach Quin Snyder said. “Particularly when you play a team that’s not only got a really good player that gets hot, but also has length and size.”
2. Unlike Saturday against the Celtics, the Hawks had balanced scoring on the offensive end. But they did not score enough and they struggled to get stops. They made fewer than 40% of their overall shots as the Cavs limited their opportunities to get out in transition by making their own.
Early in the game, the Hawks had a burst from center Clint Capela, who scored four of his first six points in the first four minutes of the game. He ended the night with 14 points as he looked to get some energy going with the offense falling stagnant.
Before the game, Cavaliers coach J.B Bickerstaff talked about his team needing to take the 3-point line away from the Hawks. The Cavs proved successful. After the Hawks went 8-of-21 from 3 in the first half, they went 5-of-23 in the second.
3. It did not help that the Cavaliers did everything in their power to send bodies to Young. The Cavaliers held Young to 3-of-14 shooting. Though the Hawks had contributions up and down the lineup, the cold shooting night from Young made it an uphill battle for them.
Young scored a season-low 13 points but he continued to impact the game with his dishes. He handed out 10 assists and continued his streak of a takeaway each game.
The Hawks guard had a slow start to the year with his shooting but seemed to find his stride as of late as he continues to navigate what the expanded duties the Hawks have asked of him.
But the Hawks needed more from everyone on the team and Snyder continued to preach the need for a collective effort.
4. The Hawks briefly lost De’Andre Hunter during Tuesday’s game after he dislocated his right pinky finger. It is the same finger that forced him to leave the matchup against the Pelicans on Nov. 4 when the team mounted a comeback and erased a double-digit deficit.
After he left the game with 6:03 left in the second quarter, the Cavaliers erased a 12-point Hawks lead, eventually taking over after a big second quarter from Mitchell.
Hunter returned and ended the night with 18 points.
“He’s been terrific with his focus defensively,” Snyder said. “He’s being aggressive offensively. He dislocated his finger and came back, which says a lot about him and his competitiveness and his commitment to the group. That’s something that we all have to feel that level, and we’ve got to feel it collectively, but you know, he’s a competitor.”
5. The Hawks run in the inaugural NBA In-Season Tournament came to end. Several teams won their matchups, in addition to the Hawks’ loss. Now the Hawks wait to see what their next two games will be as the league finalizes the schedules of teams eliminated from the tournament.
Stat to know
184 - Clint Capela had two blocks in the first half, his 184th career multi-block half. It’s the ninth-most in the NBA since the 2014-15 season.
“All I’m trying to do is bring that intensity, energy when I can, whenever I’m down on that floor, I’m just trying to leave everything out there. It doesn’t matter. I just focus on my energy. And just bring it.” -- Clint Capela on his early success Tuesday.
The Hawks head to San Antonio to face the No. 1 overall pick in the 2023 NBA Draft, Victor Wembanyama, and the Spurs on Thursday.