Nate McMillan: Hawks must prepare and ‘respect the game’

The Rockets handed the Hawks an essential reminder Friday: They must be prepared to play the full 48 minutes of basketball. The Hawks lost to the Rockets 128-122 despite taking a 10-point lead into the final 12 minutes of play.

Ahead of the game, Hawks coach Nate McMillan said that the team needed to play and respect the game. Following the loss, McMillan echoed his earlier statement.

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When McMillan spoke of respect, he was not alluding to the antics that occurred in the third quarter that resulted in a pair of technical fouls for the team’s starting guards. Unfortunately for the Hawks, their dust-up with the Rockets in the third quarter sparked the fourth-quarter push that saw the Rockets outscore them 34-18.

“There was a little disrespect going on from their side, so just wanted to check them on it and just do some straightening, and we bounced back and responded with a win,” Rockets forward Jabari Smith told reporters following the game.

So, after giving up 102 points across the first, second and fourth quarters, as well as 37 second-chance points off of 22 offensive rebounds, McMillan expects the Hawks to use this as a lesson for the future.

“We got to learn from that,” McMillan said. “I think that’s a game that we certainly got to grow from and show growth from that type of game.”

On Sunday, the Hawks will face the Heat (9-11) for the first of four matchups between the teams this season. It will be the first time that the Hawks have played the Heat since their first-round exit in the playoffs.

“Miami has a team that scraps,” McMillan said. “So they’re gonna come in, and they’re gonna scrap for 40 minutes, no matter who’s in uniform. And we got to be ready for that. We got to prepare for that, prepare mentally, as well as physically, and be ready for that style of play tomorrow.”

The Hawks should have their frontcourt tested as they face Bam Adebayo, who the Heat consider their most reliable player this season.

Adebayo is averaging 19.9 points and 9.5 rebounds per game.

“He’s one of their primary guys down there in Miami,” Hawks forward John Collins said. “So you just know the ball is going to be in his hands. And that’s where it comes to respecting the game, watching film, understanding their plays and where he likes to score and where he likes to do whatever and doing our best to combat that.”

The Hawks could have to play without Clint Capela, who missed Friday’s game with dental pain, for another game. McMillan said that Capela went to the doctor Saturday and that the team would get clarification on the center’s availability.

But regardless of Capela’s availability to play Sunday, the Hawks will need to have a team-rebounding mentality to avoid a repeat of Friday night. The Rockets outrebounded the Hawks 59-28.

“I would say it’s harder because we don’t have our big guy down there,” Collins said. “So CC averages 12 rebounds a game, or however many rebounds he’s averaging. CC, that’s what he does. So, that’s more so the hard part is not being able to make up for those 12 rebounds, we lose. So, getting the team together, it’s more of a necessary (thing), something that we know we’re gonna have to do, but you got to make it happen.”

Injury note

Bogdan Bogdanovic participated in a 5-on-5 pickup game with teammates Jarrett Culver, Tren Forrest, Justin Holiday, Frank Kaminsky and Vit Krejci, as well as some members of the Hawks’ player development staff.

McMillan noted that Bogdanovic has not participated in practice. He added that there was no set timeline in place for Bogdanovic’s return.