Hawks’ Nate McMillan Has Seen It All Before the Summer, and That’s the Problem

Hawks' Nate McMillan Has Seen It All Before the Summer, and That's the Problem

Hawks' Nate McMillan Has Seen It All Before the Summer, and That's the Problem

As Atlanta Hawks coach Nate McMillan looked forward to Tuesday night’s Game 5 of his team’s Eastern Conference playoff series against the Miami Heat at the FTX Arena, it was accompanied by a definite case of déj vu. , , Eve.

went there. saw this. have lost.

After a first-round exit by the Heat at the start of the 2020 NBA playoffs while coaching the Indiana Pacers, the defensive approach became a matter of what is old is new again.

McMillan said Heit and Eric Spoelstra have been procuring pieces to make it work, continuing with the plan.

So while Bam Adebayo and Jimmy Butler remain anchors, just as they were in 2020 against McMillan’s Pacers in the first round, the Nets cast by the Heat front office are again in a defensive supporting cast to keep a McMillan team on their heels. reeled for. ,

And, once again, Spoelstra has succeeded as the puppet master.

“It’s the system, McMillan said, with his team going 3-1 in the best-of-seven series on Tuesday night. “It’s a system Miami has played with for many years. Of course, he does a great job with this team.

“But the system they have defensively, I faced a similar defense in Indiana a few years ago when I was in Indiana and we were swept into the playoffs.”

With this, McMillan withdrew heat defenders from Butler and Adebayo to PJ Tucker, Kyle Lowry, Gabe Vincent and Caleb Martin.

“Bam being in that five position, their ability to go out for guard. You bring in a guy like Tucker. You bring in Lowry. Those guys are defensive-minded players,” McMillan said. “A few years ago, they had brought [Andre] Igodala. Boys like that.

“So their defense that they are playing, they recruit personnel to fit their system.”

In some ways, it was as though McMillan was offering a tribute to Pat Riley’s downward collective heat approach, with Spoelstra able to turn to the next defensive man.

“They’re pretty strong with Butler, the main guy primarily defensively,” McMillan said. “His ability to defend one to five. Balm’s ability to protect one to five. Tucker’s ability to defend one to five. You bring in a guy like Vincent to replace Lori. The ball and his ability to get under pressure.

“So it’s a system that’s been in place with Miami for some time. And they do a good job of recruiting and finding people who fit the system they want to play in.

As the series progressed, McMillan turned to the shorter ball to change the pace. Instead, they got a substantial heat counter.

“They put a lot of momentum in there,” he said. “Basically, actually, four guards.”

And he also came in with Kyle Lowry due to a hamstring strain, which again ruled him out for Game 5, with Vincent going in his place and bringing his defensive energy after Sunday’s Heat was out in a Game 4 win.

In the end, McMillian proved to be perhaps too much of a presenter, offering up his scouting report on the Heat’s defense earlier this series.

“They force turnover by their pressure,” he said a week ago. “They do a good job of switching, with Baum being able to defend one to five. So we have to defend them. Get some ball movement. Be prepared for their changing defenses. They go from one press to one area. Will go.”

Ultimately, the Heat have accomplished all of the above, with all of the above players coming in waves against Young and the Hawks’ scorers.

“You have to give them credit,” Young said.