Atlanta Hawks head coach Nate McMillan has called for his team to improve when they meet Milwaukee Bucks in the second of the two 2022 NBA Abu Dhabi Games on Saturday.
The Hawks came from a point behind in the first quarter to clinch the remaining periods to win the first pre-season game 123-113 in front of a passionate crowd of 18,000 fans at Etihad Arena.
“I thought it was a good game and good effort from both teams, but we would like to see more improvement with this being our first pre-season game,” McMillan said.
“I like that we were able to get out and establish a tempo. Getting the ball up and down the floor. Offensively, I thought we had some pretty good ball movement.
“We didn't shoot the three well, but we did a good job of getting to the free-throw line and taking care of the basketball. Only eight turnovers tonight for us. We had 28 free throws. That tells me that we were pretty aggressive tonight.”
Dejounte Murray impressed on his Hawks debut with 25 points, nine assists and eight rebounds while teammate Trae Young chipped in with 22 points and three assists.
“We’ve got to keep that hunger mentality to work … to continue to learn and get better and grow with each other and compete at a high level,” Murray said.
“I believe we can do that … I’m already on to Saturday. We got the win, but like I said, there’s always room to improve.”
Point guard Young foresees a revival of the Bucks for their next meeting.
“They are good side and you can expect them to come back stronger for the second game, meaning we need to raise our level once again,” Young said.
The Hawks started Young, Murray, De’Andre Hunter, John Collins and Clint Capela and McMillan plans to give this combination more court time on Saturday.
“I’m feel very happy with them and want to allow them to continue and just work together,” the former assistant coach of the USA that won gold medals at the Beijing and London Olympics, said.
“We want to work on that chemistry by giving them a good run and provide a lot of time together. We are still learning as we go with the things we can do and the things we can achieve.
“It’s been great to be in Abu Dhabi and the experience of playing in front of passionate new audience. For the players, it has been a good experience and to get a good bonding from this outing.”
Bucks assistant coach Charles Lee said there were plenty of positives to take into Game 2.
“From my stand point, we are very encouraged doing a good job on the rhythm tonight but still we need to work on the consistency of our game and individual talents,” he said.
“We needed a little more consistency overall improvement which I think we can expect in such high-level games. Giannis [Antetokounmpo] was playing his first game and he should come from this outing.”
Antetokounmpo added: “As a team we have to get better. The game was very nice. The guys in the locker room were excited. Next game we’ve just got to play better.”
Fans can watch the game on BeIN Sports and NBA League Pass.