Moments before opening tip-off of the 2022-23 NBA season, Atlanta Hawks All-Star Trae Young addressed the sold out crowd at State Farm Arena.
“We appreciate everyone for being here and thanks for the support. We’re looking forward to holding up the trophy at the end of the year,” Young said.
The climb to NBA Finals contenders will be an uphill battle considering the multiple superior teams in the Eastern Conference, but every climb begins with the first step.
On Oct. 20, the Hawks battled the youthful Houston Rockets in a match-up that proved to be too close for comfort at times. The Rockets kept the game close by bruising the Hawks in the paint and grabbing 15 offensive rebounds, the Hawks finished the game four.
But the Hawks were able to remain ahead of the Rockets for the most of the game due to high-scoring nights from several players. Young (23), John Collins (24), DeAndre Hunter (22), and Dejounte Murray (20) led the way on offense.
On defense, the newcomer Murray provided an intensity that was missing in year’s past by finishing the game with five steals.
“We’re giving him freedom to anticipate and we encourage him to be aggressive off the ball and get turnovers. I think he’s an old school defender,” coach Nate McMillan said in the post game press conference.
However, Murray believes that there is a lot of room for growth after the Hawks won by a score of 117-107.
“The game was too close,” Murray said following the game. “Not to discredit the guys over there, they’re a young and talented team. But in terms of maturity level and experience level, we should have been better. It’s not just about me and Trae, it’s about the Atlanta Hawks. But when it comes us, we’re going to set the tone and go from there.”
On Friday, the Hawks will face-off against the Orlando Magic.