Young, Collins Excel in Loss

The Dec. 3 matchup between the Golden State Warriors and Atlanta Hawks was a one-sided affair. The Warriors soundly defeated the Hawks 128-111. The Hawks’ starting five consisted of power forward John Collins, point guard Trae Young, center Dewayne Dedmon, small forward Taurean Prince and shooting guard Kevin Huerter. The Warriors, with power forward Draymond Green out due to a toe injury, fielded a starting five of shooting forward Klay Thompson, power forward Kevon Looney, point guard Stephen Curry, small forward Kevin Durant and shooting guard Andre Iguodala.

Curry had a hot start to the first quarter with 18 points, outscoring the Hawks’ first-quarter team score of 17 points. Playing in his second game after returning from a groin injury, Curry scored 30 points in 29 minutes, reigniting his campaign for league MVP. The Warriors’ threatening trio of Curry, Durant (28 points) and Thompson (27 points) combined for 85 points on the night.

The Hawks fell behind in the first quarter, but they outscored the Warriors in the second and fourth quarters, 30-27 and 34-31, respectively. But whenever the Hawks went on a run and reduced the Warriors’ lead, the Warriors retaliated with a mini-run of their own and re-established a dominant lead.

While the result was disappointing for the Hawks, Young (20 points, 3 assists) and Collins (24 points, 11 rebounds, 2 assists) displayed great potential. The Hawks might very well tank again this year in order to obtain a high draft pick. This will give them a chance to draft top college prospects such as Duke University (N.C.)’s RJ Barrett, Zion Williamson or Cam Reddish.

In his postgame interview, Thompson jokingly said the current Hawks team reminds him of the Warriors, “maybe like seven years ago,” referring to the Warriors in 2012. At that time, the West coast dynasty was in its infancy. Thompson was drafted in 2011 and Green in 2012. At the same time, Curry was recovering from chronic ankle injuries.

Young, who is viewed as a future franchise-leading player for the Hawks, has been incessantly compared to Curry.

“Honestly, it’s getting old,” Curry said in an interview in response to the comparisons.

Although Young has been shooting poorly this season (37.9 percent FG, 23.9 percent 3PT), he leads this year’s rookie class with an average of 7.4 assists per game and is second to the Dallas Mavericks point guard Luka Doncic in scoring, with 15.8 points per game.

On a lighter note, a large contingent of the Hawks fans jeered Durant when he took free throws, shouting at the top of their voices, “Draymond hates you!” While the Hawks’ baskets and defensive plays were cheered on by the home crowd, the sheer star power and finesse of the Warriors mesmerised the crowd and brought about a feeling of helplessness and disbelief in the Hawks fans.

The Hawks return to action when they host the Washington Wizards on Dec. 5. Although the Wizards are favoured to win the impending matchup, their erratic performances this season may open a window for an upset against the Hawks, who are at the bottom of the Eastern Conference.

The Warriors visit the struggling Cleveland Cavaliers on Dec. 5, as well. This is likely a routine win for the Warriors, who will be without Green again. He is not expected to return to the Warriors for at least the next two games.