Atlanta Hawks: Preseason Game 3 Takeaways


The Atlanta Hawks remain undefeated in the preseason following a victory on Wednesday over the San Antonio Spurs by a final score of 100-86.

Jeff Teague led the way for the Atlanta Hawks with 19 points, and continues to look in midseason form early on. Wednesday’s game was a matchup between similar clubs with similar styles. The Atlanta Hawks and San Antonio Spurs have many connections on and off the court like the relationship between Head Coaches Mike Budenholzer and Gregg Poppovich, as well as former Spurs’ C Tiago Splitter who is now a part of the Atlanta Hawks.

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Thabo Sefolosha also returned to the court for the first time in 6 months and played only 8 minutes. Though Sefolosha was played sparingly, it was still great to see the Atlanta Hawks swingman on the court and to witness the progress he has made in his recovery. 

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Because of the way Atlanta Hawks preseason schedule is structured, Head Coach Mike Budenholzer is able to play his starters and primary reserves extensively to prepare for the season, even though the game is essentially meaningless. We saw a few things that bode well for the Hawks’ as the regular season approaches, and witnessed excellent competition in a preseason game. Here are some takeaways from Wednesday’s game vs. the Spurs:

1. Mike Budenholzer continues to play his starters heavily: Even though this is the preseason, Head Coach Mike Budenholzer has played his starters extensively throughout the first three preseason contests. On Wednesday, both Paul Millsap and Jeff Teague played into the 4th quarter, totaling 25 minutes on the court, while Al Horford and Kyle Korver also played 22 minutes. Kent Bazemore played 20 minutes.

Though this is uncommon in the preseason, I believe that CMB is trying to afford his starters the opportunity to gel before the season even begins. Because the Atlanta Hawks have only played 3 games in the past week, the schedule presents an opportunity for Bud to know his starters are well rested and to get an early season glimpse of their performance. With two more preseason games in the next 5 days though, don’t expect to see the starters receive significant playing time over the next week.

2. Edy Tavares Gets Significant Minutes: The Atlanta Hawks have, for the most part, used a rotation of players that we will likely see throughout the season during the first 3 preseason games. One player, though, who I did not think would find himself as a part of Mike Budenholzer’s rotation, saw significant minutes on the court on Wednesday: Walter Tavares.

The 7’3” rookie center from Cape Verde played 18 minutes on Wednesday vs. the Spurs, and even saw time playing with the starters. Mike Budenholzer continues to tinker with his lineups, and we saw Tavares get playing time with both Al Horford and Paul Millsap on the court. There is no doubt that Tavares is raw and will probably need time in the D-League this season, but his height makes him an intriguing prospect that could develop into an important piece for the Atlanta Hawks down the line.

3. Experimentation with Lineups: Mike Budenholzer experimented with a big lineup in the past 2 games that included Tiago Splitter, Al Horford and Paul Millsap playing at the SF position. On Wednesday, we got to see a “Big and Small” lineup. Bud played Walter Tavares at the 5, Horford at 4, while playing Korver at the 3, Jeff Teague at SG, and Dennis Schroder at PG. This was the first time I saw a lineup that saw Horford slide down to PF while also featuring a 2 point guard set of Teague and Schroder. We will most likely see the Teague/Schroder lineup frequently throughout the regular season; but this particular lineup is very intriguing that it provides height in the front-court while being paired with a dynamic backcourt.

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4. Tim Hardaway Jr. is still frustrating, but has potential: When the Atlanta Hawks acquired Tim Hardaway Jr. during the 2015 NBA Draft, many thought that the club had given up too much for a player who has yet demonstrate any consistency throughout his two-year career. So far as a member of the Atlanta Hawks, Tim Hardaway Jr. remains a mystery.

There are times in which it is frustrating to watch the 3rd-year player out of Michigan, as he is prone to making mental mistakes on the court. But there are other times when Hardaway impresses and displays the athleticism and shooting touch that made the Atlanta Hawks pursue him in the first place. It will take time and patience, but I’m confident that at some point during the season, Tim Hardaway Jr. will become a valued member of the rotation, and a legitimate scoring threat off the bench for the Atlanta Hawks.

The Atlanta Hawks face off against the Dallas Mavericks on Friday in their fourth preseason contest.

Next: Atlanta Hawks: 4 Things to Watch vs. Spurs

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