MIAMI–Five observations from the Hawks’ 96-90 exhibition loss at the Heat.
1. Starting off
Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer said not to read much into his exhibition lineups because he plans to mix and match combinations. However, the starters for Sunday’s exhibition opener were the same he used during a portion of training camp practice open to media: point guard Dennis Schroder, shooting guard Kent Bazemore, small forward Taurean Prince, power forward Ersan Ilyasova and center Dewayne Dedmon.
Based on personnel, that lineup has the potential to be solid defensively with Bazemore and Prince on the wings, Dedmon protecting the basket and Ilyasova guarding the 3-point line. But shooting could be a problem unless Prince develops his jumper and Bazemore bounces back after a disappointing season in 2016-17.
2. Dedmon does damage
Dedmon came pretty much as advertised in his first (unofficial) game with the Hawks. During two seasons as a rotation player in Orlando and one in San Antonio, Dedmon was a very efficient scorer on pick-and-rolls and around the basket. On the other hand, Dedmon struggled to stay on the floor because he averaged 5.4 fouls every 36 minutes over those years.
Against the Heat, Dedmon had three scores on rolls to the basket, another basket on a hand-off, finished an alley-oop dunk in transition and also drew a foul on a shot attempt near the rim (two of those passes were from Bazemore). But Dedmon earned his third personal foul in less than six minutes and picked up his fourth less than five minutes after halftime.
There was one new twist for Dedmon. He launched two 3-point attempts, both misses, after he’d tried just one in 224 career games.
2. Schroder still smooth
Before the game Schroder said he was ready to move on following his arrest Friday on a misdemeanor battery charge. Once the game started, Schroder showed off his usual superlative ability to get to the basket and his smooth passing skills.
Heat defenders struggled to keep Schroder out of the lane. He did have a handful of layup attempts blocked in the first half but finished stronger in the third quarter. Schroder played 21 minutes and finished 6-for-17 from the floor with 12 points, four rebounds and five assists with no turnovers.
4. Getting defensive
The Hawks focused on defense during their three-day training camp last week and it showed against the Heat. The Hawks were crisp with their help rotations on the perimeter, mindful of protecting the paint against potential drivers and scrappy around the basket.
The Hawks had eight steals among 15 forced turnovers in the first half and limited the Heat to four offensive rebounds on 22 missed shots.
5. Injury report
Hawks forward DeAndre’ Bembry (triceps) didn’t play. The Hawks announced on Sept. 13 that Bembry would miss four to six weeks with the injury but he’s been ahead of that schedule. Budenholzer said Bembry could be back to participating fully in practice “by the end of the week, if not earlier.”
Center Miles Plumlee suffered a right quadriceps strain after playing three minutes in the first half. He did not return to the game.
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