No league does pomp and circumstance like the NBA. No organization throws a party like the Atlanta Hawks. In the first game of the season, the NBA, the Hawks organization, and their team all did their part to send the fans home happy.
First and foremost, just before the game, a quarter-century-long mistake was corrected by the league. Hall of Famer and 'Human Highlight Film' Dominique Wilkins was named to the NBA's Top 75 Players list. Huge congratulations to Wilkins. We all know he is an all-time great player and commentator, but his genuine kindness and humanity far exceed his vertical.
By the time the game finally tipped off, the crowd was in a frenzy. Despite a slow shooting start, the Hawks took control in the second quarter and put the game away early in the second half. A well-rounded offensive output coupled with lockdown defense resulted in a total blowout.
It was still the first game for everyone. New rule changes resulted in both Trae Young and Luka Doncic being justifiably unhappy with the officials. But in Jason Kidd's first game as the Mavericks head coach, his team looked unprepared. After halftime, you could hear them trying to pump one another up as they exited the locker room, but the energy was never there.
It's never wise to take too much from a one-game sample size - especially when it's Opening Night. But the Hawks played as if tonight was a playoff game. After the game, Coach McMillan praised the entire team's energy and defense from the jump, specifically the play of De'Andre Hunter. McMillan said of Hunter, "He really set the tone for us."
Hunter's classmate, Cam Reddish, scored 20 points in 21 minutes. McMillan said that Reddish "played a beautiful game" and "tonight he showed he can play on both sides of the floor."
Clint Capela also played 21 minutes since he is still on a minutes restriction. The big man grabbed 13 rebounds, 12 points on 6-6 shooting. Capela's counterpart, John Collins quietly accrued an efficient 16 points and 9 rebounds. Nothing new with either of those performances.
As will be the case for the rest of their career, comparisons will be made between Young and Doncic. Young entered the arena wearing a shirt stating "Atlanta, Georgia Changed My Life." When asked about the shirt after the game, Young reiterated his love for the city and team before saying, "they traded up to draft me."
The Hawks travel to Cleveland tomorrow to play the Cavaliers on Saturday evening. If tonight was any indication, it's going to be a great season in Atlanta. Stay locked in to AllHawks.com as we keep you updated with breaking news and analysis.
Hawks Stats Leaders
Trae Young - 19 PTS, 14 AST
John Collins - 16 PTS, 9 REB
Clint Capela - 12 PTS, 13 REB
Mavericks Stats Leaders
Luka Doncic - 18 PTS, 11 REB, 7 AST
Jalen Brunson - 17 PTS, 3 REB
Tim Hardaway Jr. - 14 PTS, 2 REB