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The Atlanta Hawks had their first practice after their long trip to Dubai which was beneficial in more ways than one. While out of the country, the Hawks played two games against the Milwaukee Bucks and won both contests.
Although the focal point of the trip to Abu Dhabi was to get their first game-action in and build chemistry on the court with their team, including newly acquired All-Star Dejounte Murray, it was more to it than just basketball. It was also to bond off the court, which not being familiar with anything else other than with each other, helped that cause.
“It was a lot of distractions, good distractions in a sense of we did a lot of things [together],” said head coach Nate McMillan. “We went on a lot of tours, went on a lot of dinners, every evening we had something to do either together or for the NBA. But they managed to focus when they were on the court”
There were plenty to do and they did lots of it. The Hawks took advantage of the time to bond but also enjoyed being in the Middle East, including Trae Young.
“There were a lot of cool things like getting to see the Mosque, to meet the chairman over there and be around all the fans over there,” stated Young.
Yet still, the Hawks were able to accomplish their main goals…get better and have a positive output on the court. The first game, Murray displayed his versatility by going for 28 points on 9-13 from the field, nine assist and eight rebounds. Defensively, he was able to create havoc with his ball pressure and blocked two shots.
It was also good to see Young be able to get that first game in with Murray and still be “Ice Trae”. Adding 22 points as well, adjusting to sharing the backcourt with Murray and playing off the ball was a smooth transition.
“Obviously I’m going to have to adjust and do some new things but I’m still going to be me and still play the way I do. It’s just playing and picking my spots a little differently,” Young said.
In the second game, Young was at a familiar spot having the backcourt to himself as Murray didn’t play. He scored 31 points and made seven three pointers, while dishing out six assist all in the first half.
Other players also got to showcase their talents, in particularly, rookie AJ Griffin. The young kid scored 13 points off 4-8 from the field, including 3-5 from behind the arch and grabbed four rebounds.
McMillan was pleased with how Griffin played and composed himself.
“When he got the basketball, he was really looking to play quick and he made some plays, made some shots. I liked his attitude and approach when he got those minutes,” stated McMillan.
The next mission is in Cleveland to take on the new look Cavaliers. The Hawks want to improve on their mistakes, get more comfortable with each other and get their condition up.
After building that camaraderie and bond with each other, it shouldn’t be as difficult to accomplish what they set out to do on the court.