Trae Young, Hawks Receive Reality Check in Game 1 Loss to Heat

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVApril 17, 2022

MIAMI, FL - APRIL 17: Trae Young #11 of the Atlanta Hawks looks on against the Miami Heat during Round 1 Game 1 of the 2022 NBA Playoffs on April 17, 2022 at FTX Arena in Miami, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2022 NBAE (Photo by Issac Baldizon/NBAE via Getty Images)
Issac Baldizon/NBAE via Getty Images

"Ice Trae" went ice cold Sunday.

Trae Young's 32 second-half points were pivotal in the Atlanta Hawks' play-in tournament victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers to secure the No. 8 seed. As the Hawks opened the first round of the 2022 NBA playoffs, that player was noticeably absent.

Young finished 1-of-12 from the field for eight points, six rebounds and four assists in a 115-91 defeat to the top-seeded Miami Heat.

To a degree, it was such an outlier that you can't draw too many conclusions. There aren't going to be many other occasions when Young goes 0-of-7 from beyond the arc.

StatMuse @statmuse

Trae Young vs the Heat defense:<br><br>8 PTS<br>4 AST<br>6 TOV<br>1-12 FG<br>0-7 3P<br><br>His worst shooting performance of his career. <a href="https://t.co/uVAnTdewG1">pic.twitter.com/uVAnTdewG1</a>

Tom Haberstroh @tomhaberstroh

Trae Young is 1/12 but somehow that understates the struggle

But Game 1 also set a tone for the rest of the series. The Heat finished fourth in defensive rating (108.4) in the regular season, per NBA.com, and they plan to make Young's life a nightmare on the court.

Jimmy Butler briefly squared off with the 6'1" guard in the first quarter, with tempers quickly simmering down.

Bleacher Report @BleacherReport

JIMMY AND TRAE GETTING INTO IT EARLY 🍿 <a href="https://t.co/pWxuc0y6RO">pic.twitter.com/pWxuc0y6RO</a>

Every time Young had the ball, he was closely shadowed by at least one Miami defender.

Bally Sports Sun: HEAT @BallyHEAT

Kyle Lowry picked Trae Young's pocket and got it to Max Strus for the 𝙨𝙡𝙖𝙢 😤<a href="https://twitter.com/MiamiHEAT?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@MiamiHEAT</a> | <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/HEATCulture?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#HEATCulture</a> | <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/WhiteHot?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#WhiteHot</a> ⚪🔥 <a href="https://t.co/YRjaYbBcLl">pic.twitter.com/YRjaYbBcLl</a>

Nate Duncan @NateDuncanNBA

You could see Trae pointing to Hunter to get to the corner so they could get more spacing. Everyone is loaded up on him when he's dribbling.

Joe Vardon @joevardon

A smothering, cruel defensive effort from the Miami Heat. Not only does it lead, 59-40, over Atlanta in Game 1 of this first round series, but Trae Young has no room to breathe. He is 1-9 shooting and the team is 2-18 on 3s.

Zito @_Zeets

Miami Heat has Trae Young shooting like Westbrook. This is disgusting to see.

Young is too good of a scorer to keep this up. There will be an inevitable adjustment, even against an opponent as strong on defense as the Heat.

The Hawks' worries will extend beyond Young's offensive contributions—or lack thereof—in Game 1, though. His liabilities as a defender are something Miami will continue to exploit.

Brad Botkin @bradbotkincbs

And if he's not dominating on offense, this becomes insurmountable. It's hard to believe some of the lack of effort from Trae in a playoff game. Watched him sit on the floor for maybe three seconds while Herro jogged the other way unguarded for a floater. Pretty unacceptable

Rohan Nadkarni @RohanNadkarni

trae is dying on these screens and it’s opening up so much for miami’s offense

The Minnesota Timberwolves' 130-117 win over the Memphis Grizzlies showed how advancing through the play-in tournament can cement the rise of a budding young squad.

In the Hawks' case, taking down the Cavaliers and Charlotte Hornets couldn't mask what were glaring issues in the regular season. Atlanta looked a lot like the team with the ninth-best record in the Eastern Conference on Sunday.