When the regular season officially ended, the Eagles still failed to replicate the performance of last season’s strong pull in the late game. The new season rushed to the 3rd to 6th is only basic? In fact, it is more like Cinderella who lost her glass slipper after midnight.
At the end of the first half, the Cavaliers led the Eagles by 10 points, and they had to face the Cavaliers’ giant tower lineup when the starting center Clint Capela retired due to injury. The last place in the wild-card playoffs seems to be ready.
For the Hawks, it seems fitting to end the 2021-22 season with a tumultuous moment like this: Basically, it’s been a portrayal of their half-year season.
However, in the player lounge at halftime, head coach Nate McMillan reminded everyone: What did we rely on to make it to the conference finals last year? is belief.
For me, the belief is to have a player like Trae Young who is willing to go through fire and water for his teammates when he steps on the court, McMillan said in a postgame news conference. He has incredible talent and skill. Of course, when we The rest of my team-mates are doing the same to create surprises like we did in the second half today.
[Regular season record, brief description of the process]
With the halo of surprise last year’s playoffs, the Eagles who successfully retained the complete core lineup and entered the 2021-22 season are no longer the green dark horse team in the eyes of everyone, but an exciting newcomer. Powerhouse.
Even if the start of the season is not satisfactory, it is still difficult to give up the Eagles so quickly. After all, last season they experienced a downturn in the first half of the season, only to pull the late game in the second half of the season, and then make a big fight in the playoffs.
But when the regular season officially ended, the Eagles still failed to replicate the performance of last season’s strong pull-back. Looking at the month-by-month results of this season, in the first five months, the Eagles have barely climbed the 50% winning rate with 8 wins and 7 losses in the first five months, and the winning rate in two months is just 50%. In December, there were 5 wins and 9 losses, and the winning rate was as low as 35.7%. The new season rushed to the 3rd to 6th is only basic? In fact, it is more like Cinderella who lost her glass slipper after midnight.
Among the five starting five, only Capela is over 25 years old. For a young team like the Eagles, it is exciting to play a crazy performance in a short period of time, but how to maintain a stable performance in the long 82 regular games? is the biggest test. After the 2021-22 season, the Hawks clearly haven’t found the right equation.
During the regular season, not only head coach McMillan, but also Capela and several other team leaders have publicly pointed out the team’s poor condition, especially the mentality problem. Get carried away by the victory, which sounds like a stupid thing that happens to the mindless villain in the movie, seems to be the best portrayal of the Eagles this season.
In February of this year, Capela said bluntly in an interview with The Athletic: Throughout the season, our attitude towards the game is: We will definitely make the playoffs anyway.
Instead of fighting game after game, we were like, ‘Oh, we’ve beaten them anyway.’ That’s the problem with young teams that are just getting their first taste of victory and haven’t seen reality. I’m not at all. Not surprised.
It is of course important for young people to have faith, but what the Eagles need most at the moment may be to recognize the reality first: it is much harder than they imagined to cross the Eastern Conference finals, and it is far from the next championship after the only championship in team history in 1958. With a crown, they still have a long way to go.
[Team advantage 1] Trae Young and a ferocious offense
Following the start of the All-Star Game in the second season of his career, Young was selected for the All-Star Game again this season, averaging 9.7 assists per game, 38.2% three-point shooting rate, and both broke career highs, as if he has become a super guard in the league’s first line. .
After the first half of the wild-card play-off, he was 10 points behind, and Capela was missing. That is to say, it was only by relying on Young’s 32 points in the second half and 38 points in the whole game that he was able to break through the eyes of everyone in adversity. Relying on Young’s inexplicable offensive dance and the team’s ferocious offensive fire net, the Eagles’ offensive efficiency value in the 2021-22 season ranks second in the league with 116.5, second only to the Jazz.
In addition to Young, the five core rotations of Bogdan Bogdanovic, Kevin Huerter, Danilo Gallinari, De’Andre Hunter, and John Collins can shoot at least 36% from the outside this season, making 2.7, 2.2, 1.7, 1.4 per game. , 1.2 three-pointers, building an offensive fire net with Young as the core, is an important reason why the Eagles can barely squeeze into the playoffs at the end of this season.
[Team disadvantage 1] Capela’s injury and weak defense broke the net
The contrast between the two ends of the offense and defense of the Eagles this season can be said to be disdainful of the entire league. Although the offensive efficiency value ranks second in the league, the defensive efficiency value also ranks fifth from the bottom with 114.9. Forget it, and injured Capela, the core of the defense, in the wild-card playoff, the situation is only more pessimistic.
Last year’s playoffs, a large part of the reason why they were able to knock out the 76ers was that they successfully improved their defensive intensity. The 76ers averaged 113.6 points per game in the regular season, ranking 14th in the league, almost the league average, but in the last four games of the series against the Eagles, they only scored 100, 106, 104, and 96 points, although The collapse of the Sixers itself must of course be taken into account, but neither can the Eagles’ wind-up.
Whether second-year grower Onyeka Okongwu can fill the vacancy will have a big impact. Okongwu, who can knock out 2.2 hot pots on average every 36 minutes, was considered to have an exciting talent on the defensive end before the draft. With Capela’s return undecided, this year’s playoffs will be an opportunity for Okongwu to seize. .
[Team disadvantage 2] Where are the second and third offensive points?
With 28.4 points and 9.7 assists, both top the team, Young’s 34.4% usage rate (USG%) ranks fourth in the league, second only to Joel Embiid, Luka Doncic, Giannis Antetokounmpo, and has already become a modern Heliocentrism team. type of supercore representative.
But a one-man team won’t go far in the playoffs, and the Hawks need other helpers to share Young’s pressure. Bogdan Bogdanovic is the best candidate, and since joining the team last year, this has been the most important task he has been given.
Bogdanovic’s job is not only to take on occasional ball-handling responsibilities when he’s on the court with Young, but also to carry the remaining 13.1 minutes of offense when Young, who has averaged 34.9 minutes per game this season, leaves the court. He was on the starting roster at the beginning of the season, but Bogdanovic returned to the sixth man position in the second half of the season, helping the team maintain 48 minutes of firepower.
Observing the data performance before and after the Bogdanovic All-Star Game, the usage rate increased from 19.1% to 24.6%, and the score also increased from 13.3 to 18.2 points, becoming a frequent visitor to the sixth man of the year in the prediction lists of various media awards at the end of the season.
In addition, Kevin Huerter is another person to look forward to. Last year, in the seventh game of the series that eliminated the 76ers in the playoffs, Huerter scored 27 points and 7 assists, becoming an important contributor. Huerter, who will only enter the 24-year-old in August this year, has gradually developed a more and more stable ball-handling and offensive ability from the pre-selection 3D template under the cultivation of the Eagles in the past four years, and may become a surprise soldier in the playoffs.
Huerter, who has shown a slight growth in almost all data in the regular season this season, can still become a key dark horse in the playoffs this year?
Not much to say, and of course Trae Young.
With a 38-point halftime performance in the wild-card playoffs, how many times can Young perform again? When he used his favorite spot to play again, but in front of him was the strongest Infinite Swap and Anti-Jagged Legion in the league, could he still get a bargain? At this point, the series had already finished two games. Young, after making 1-of-12 shots in the first game, responded with 10-of-20 shots and scored 25 points in the second game. For the Eagles, of course, it’s definitely not enough.
In this kind of battle combination of the old eight against the leader, especially the young Eagles against the South Beach army with championship experience, unless Young can have a performance of more than 100%, there will be a chance to talk about what the Eagles can add. As a potential factor in the chance of a comeback, he is basically the only one who can make unexpected things happen in the game of this series.
[First-round result prediction] The Eagles were eliminated by the Heat 1-4
John Collins, who was out of service for a month at the end of the season, pressed the line to make a comeback in the playoffs, but injured Capela again, and the bumpy road for the Eagles this season has been worse. Even if the Heat on the opposite side are suspected of coaxing at the end of the season, objectively speaking, they are better than the Eagles in terms of combat power and experience.
If Young can focus on burning the small universe after returning to Atlanta’s home court, he may be able to steal a victory, otherwise the Eagles may not be able to escape the swept round.
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