MIAMI — Bogdan Bogdanovic walked over to Trae Young and tried encouraging the Hawks’ star level guard close to the top of the primary half. It was the third straight sport Atlanta had given up a minimum of a 20-2 run, and Young’s struggles on each ends have been on the coronary heart of it. Young completed 1-of-7 from the ground with three turnovers within the first half.

All sequence lengthy, Young spoke about how he was finally going to determine Miami’s protection, however he by no means did. Young made simply 22 baskets within the 5 video games, completed 7-of-38 from 3, had 30 assists and 30 turnovers and the Hawks have been eradicated 4-1 by the Heat within the first spherical of the playoffs Tuesday.

After a missed jumper with beneath eight minutes to go within the fourth quarter that led to a Victor Oladipo 3 and a Hawks timeout, Lou Williams crouched down and tried encouraging Young.

By then, nothing anybody stated was going to get by to him. His psyche was shattered. He picked up a technical foul with 5 minutes to go because the Hawks have been mounting a comeback. A catch-and-shoot 3-point try from the nook with slightly below three minutes to go hit the facet of the backboard. A missed free throw with beneath a minute to go may’ve lower Miami’s result in two.

Despite all of Young’s struggles, the Hawks nonetheless had an opportunity to ship this sport to time beyond regulation. With 5.2 seconds left on the clock and their season on the road, the Hawks wanted a 3 to tie. McMillan stated Young, who completed the sport 0-of-5 from 3, was the primary possibility on the play he drew up. What makes that fascinating is that, whereas McMillan drew on his dry-erase board, Young wasn’t concerned within the huddle. He sat on the bench and stared straight forward, away from McMillan, as John Collins and Danilo Gallinari blocked his view of the huddle. When they broke as a workforce, Young was already strolling towards the court docket.

What then transpired was concerning the worst end-of-game play you’ll see, contemplating the stakes. For somebody who was supposedly the No. 1 possibility on the play, Young didn’t break away for the ball. He bumped into Onyeka Okongwu’s again, then backpedaled away from Delon Wright, who inbounded the ball. When Wright handed it to Gallinari, who was trapped within the nook, Young didn’t try to interrupt towards Gallinari within the hope he’d throw a wraparound cross. Instead, Gallinari tried passing the ball towards the paint after they wanted a 3, and the ball was stolen. The Hawks didn’t get a shot off to avoid wasting their season.

This was a sport the Hawks may have stolen on the highway and presumably helped discover their groove once more. Jimmy Butler, the very best participant on this sequence, was dominated out simply hours earlier than tipoff with proper knee irritation, and Kyle Lowry was already out together with his hamstring harm. Instead, the Hawks acquired a dull and uninspiring efficiency from Young in an elimination sport.

“It’s going to be a learning process,” Young stated. “Every series I play in is not going to be easy. It’s not going to be perfect. I have to go through some things to learn. I think this is, really, my first big lesson. I have to watch a lot of film from this series and see where I can get better. I just have to be better next year. ”

Young was spectacular for the Hawks within the common season and must be named to his first All-NBA workforce, which might activate the supermax clause in his contract, however how poorly he performed towards Miami is all anybody will speak about this offseason. For the following six months, till subsequent season begins, he will probably be doubted and can face immense criticism across the NBA. Last season’s run to the convention finals will undoubtedly be known as a fluke. For Young and the Hawks, there’s nothing to counter with proper now.

This marketing campaign was nothing in need of a disappointment. It was maybe essentially the most anticipated season for the reason that franchise moved to Atlanta, for good cause. The Hawks seemed like a workforce poised to take that subsequent step. Before the season started, McMillan puzzled why nobody exterior of Atlanta was speaking concerning the Hawks as contenders. Young needed nationwide respect for himself and the Hawks. Clint Capela thought this workforce could possibly be a top-five protection; how a couple of bottom-five protection as a substitute?

In the top, it was a becoming ending that we should always’ve seen coming. The Hawks desperately needing a defensive cease and, after all, giving up a wide-open dunk to Bam Adebayo. The Hawks needing clutch crunch-time performances and, after all, not even making an attempt a shot on the finish of the sport. The Hawks preserving the sport simply shut sufficient to make us all consider this was going to be their second however, after all, it wasn’t. A irritating season ends with so many long-term questions now, and perhaps we should always have seen this ending coming all alongside.

Two weeks into the season, Young informed Atlanta reporters how the common season is “a lot more boring than the playoffs.” It was a shocking quote that reverberated not solely contained in the group however exterior of it too. Sources across the league talked about how lackadaisical the Hawks seemed to start the season, and a few questioned the maturity of the workforce. Young later clarified his feedback and stated what he meant was the workforce wanted to play each sport with playoff depth, however the harm was accomplished by then.

The Hawks began 4-9, and what was weird was how they have been taking part in. There was no id. They have been settling for a gentle stream of midrange jumpers — one thing this workforce wasn’t constructed to make the most of. They weren’t making an attempt exhausting sufficient defensively. De’Andre Hunter and Cam Reddish have been closely concerned within the offense, nevertheless it was clear nearly instantly that neither ought to have been. And Reddish, particularly, was a big cause the Hawks have been so mediocre up till he was traded.

Reddish requested a trade this previous offseason as a result of he needed an even bigger function. Hawks normal supervisor Travis Schlenk waited for a first-round decide in alternate to half with Reddish, who was drafted No. 10 total within the 2019 draft, and traded him as quickly because the Knicks supplied him one. His teammates knew he needed out and but the workforce continued to play him despite the fact that he was a wild card each time he stepped out on the ground. He may drop 30 factors, or he may badly miss a number of stepback jumpers and gamble for steals defensively. As one individual contained in the group stated earlier within the season, “Cam will be good once he learns how to play basketball.”

All of the analytics pointed to Reddish’s play actively hurting the Hawks, however he remained within the rotation. There was no mandate from the entrance workplace to play Reddish to extend his commerce worth. McMillan continued taking part in him, sources say, as a result of he felt like if he didn’t, the workforce’s chemistry would’ve been negatively impacted. It was a nasty learn from McMillan. The Hawks have been 15-19 when Reddish performed this season and 28-20 with out him.

That was simply considered one of a number of errors McMillan made this season after taking up for the Hawks halfway by final season. McMillan’s declaration in mid-March that Delon Wright was out of the rotation stunned sources. They pointed to how the Hawks have been in want of higher perimeter defenders and Wright was one of many few who have been able to constantly staying in entrance of men, however McMillan as a substitute opted for Williams, who wasn’t the spark plug he was final season. Because of accidents to Williams and Collins shortly after saying Wright was out of the rotation, he was as soon as once more again within the lineup. But it was one other determination that caught many without warning. Wright ended up being among the finest Hawks within the Miami sequence.

McMillan’s end-of-game teaching was one other sore spot contained in the group. Several sources stated there was an over-reliance on Young operating the offense himself in late-game conditions as a substitute of McMillan drawing up performs. McMillan does tend to let his gamers determine it out on the court docket — whether or not that’s with not calling timeouts to cease runs or with the Hawks taking part in by the move of the offense and what he generally calls “random play.” The Hawks completed the common season with a minus-8.8 web score in clutch time, what the NBA considers video games inside 5 factors and beneath 5 minutes.

When talking about potential playoff matchups for the Hawks a couple of weeks in the past, one supply contained in the group talked about how the Heat have been a nasty matchup for Atlanta. When requested why, he stated he thought the hole between Erik Spoelstra and McMillan was too extensive. Spoelstra is called among the finest in-game tacticians within the NBA, and that confirmed itself with how the Heat neutralized Young and the way the Hawks couldn’t determine something out to get him going.

Lloyd Pierce was fired final season as a result of he misplaced the locker room, and primarily Young. One supply was requested after Tuesday’s Game 5 loss if McMillan had assist within the locker room this season and if he felt just like the gamers believed of their coach; he simply laughed. As of some days in the past, McMillan’s job safety was not in query. The method wherein the Hawks misplaced may change opinions, however that is still unclear proper now. This sequence was one other reminder, although, of McMillan’s lack of playoff success. In his 18 seasons, he’s solely superior out of the primary spherical twice: final season and in 2005 with the Seattle SuperSonics.

Where McMillan falls quick in many individuals’s eyes is his rigidity, notably with regards to experimenting even when the established order isn’t working. Rookie Jalen Johnson solely obtained 120 minutes this season, as McMillan was adamant about how the Hawks have been out of the event stage. Johnson is actually uncooked however groups — even good ones — work out methods to search out taking part in time for rookies. Instead, he performed the 74th-most minutes out of all rookies this season. Different lineup combos that work nicely, like Kevin Huerter and Bogdan Bogdanovic collectively, aren’t used typically sufficient. Lineup combos that don’t work nicely, like several you’d like to call involving Reddish, have been used an excessive amount of.

As one supply stated after Game 5, “McMillan’s unimaginative, and when things aren’t going to plan, it’s hard to make an adjustment.”

Where the Hawks go from right here will probably be fascinating to comply with this offseason. A shakeup must be coming. The East improved this season, and the Hawks didn’t. The clearest approach Atlanta will look to enhance is thru a commerce. Collins must be thought-about the likeliest individual to maneuver, as a result of the Hawks simply don’t have high-level commerce items to dramatically enhance the roster. It’s Collins or Capela, and it wouldn’t be shocking to see each elsewhere, despite the fact that they’re every significant gamers for the Hawks.

Hunter, who had his greatest sport of the season in Game 5, scoring 35 factors, was below-average for a lot of the season. You’re seemingly not getting high quality again if Hunter is the principle piece of a commerce proper now. Huerter is a task participant. Bogdanovic will probably be 30 initially of subsequent season. Okongwu has potential, however he’s not confirmed but. Johnson has no worth as a result of he didn’t play. Gallinari is an fascinating participant to observe due to his contract scenario (his deal subsequent season is simply partially assured) however seemingly will find yourself being a cap casualty in any case.

When you go searching on the stars who may presumably be obtainable this offseason, it turns into troublesome to suppose different groups can be happy with any bundle the Hawks may provide that features gamers who will not be named Trae Young. They do have all of their first-round picks, however they’re seemingly not going to be dangerous sufficient within the close to future for these picks to actually be difference-makers.

The Hawks want extra confirmed expertise on the roster. That a lot is obvious. They want higher ballhandlers, higher perimeter defenders, higher function gamers, higher vets, higher management. There’s a lot Atlanta has to get higher at earlier than the beginning of subsequent season; it nearly appears unattainable this quote from Collins was stated this season.

“I feel like we’re real contenders,” Collins stated in coaching camp. “I definitely feel like we can get to the Finals.”

That appears far-off now.

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(Photo of Trae Young: Michael Reaves / Getty Images)

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