Hawks' Trae Young After Playoff Loss to Heat: 'We Taking This Up a Notch Next Year'

Paul KasabianFeatured Columnist IIApril 27, 2022

MIAMI, FLORIDA - APRIL 26: Trae Young #11 of the Atlanta Hawks shoots against Caleb Martin #16 of the Miami Heat during the first half in Game Five of the Eastern Conference First Round at FTX Arena on April 26, 2022 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.  (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
Michael Reaves/Getty Images

The Atlanta Hawks bowed out of the playoffs early after losing four games to one to the Miami Heat in their first-round NBA Eastern Conference series.

Hawks star point guard Trae Young, who led Atlanta to the Eastern Conference Finals the year before, is determined for a much better team performance in 2022-23.

Trae Young @TheTraeYoung

Year 4 over &amp; more motivated than ever.! I’m gonna do what I’ve always done &amp; that’s level up some more ! Appreciate the fans that showed this team Love throughout this season ! <br> <br>…Trust we taking this up a notch next year ! Just wait..❄️<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/WeMove?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#WeMove</a> <a href="https://t.co/BE7RCfm0Dl">pic.twitter.com/BE7RCfm0Dl</a>

Injuries played a major role in Atlanta taking a step back in 2021-22. Of note, John Collins (28 missed games), De'Andre Hunter (29), Bogdan Bogdanovic (19) and Onyeka Okongwu (34) all missed a significant amount of time.

The Hawks also dug themselves an early hole after beginning the season with a 17-25 record, but they proceeded to win 26 of their final 40 regular-season games before posting back-to-back victories in the play-in tournament to advance to the playoffs.

A healthier Hawks team would certainly go a long way toward improvement next season.

The Hawks have the talent for a deep playoff run as evidenced by their work in 2020-21, when they reached the East Finals after beating the New York Knicks 4-1 in the first round and upsetting the top-seeded Philadelphia 76ers in the semifinals.

Atlanta even impressed in the East Finals against the eventual champion Milwaukee Bucks, taking them to six games.

Next season, the Eastern Conference looks quite formidable.

Jayson Tatum might be the best two-way player in the NBA at this point as he leads a strong Boston Celtics team. NBA MVP candidate Joel Embiid will always keep the Philadelphia 76ers in contention, and he should have a full season with James Harden.

The Heat have a dominant quartet in Jimmy Butler, Bam Adebayo, Tyler Herro and Kyle Lowry leading the way. And then there's Giannis Antetokounmpo, who may very well lead the Bucks to back-to-back titles this year.

It'll be tough for Atlanta to navigate those teams, but having a superstar in Young and a host of talented complementary players certainly helps. For now, the Hawks are back to the drawing board in hopes of a better playoff fate next year.