The one-seeded Miami Heat obliterated the eighth-seeded Atlanta Hawks by a score of 115-91 in Game One of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals. Miami did a multitude of great things in this bloodbath of a game, but their defense on Trae Young was the outlier. Young statistically had the worst postseason performance of his career. He finished with only 8 points (on 26.5 true-shooting percentage), 4 assists, and most notably 6 turnovers.
The Miami Heat implemented a plethora of defensive strategies on Trae Young and they all seemed to be effective. Miami’s large number of switchable defenders was very important in containing Young. That critical luxury made it possible to throw many bodies on Trae. Whether Kyle Lowry, Bam Adebayo, or P.J. Tucker defended Young, Miami’s point-of-attack defense was stellar on him. The Heat flawlessly switched off of pick-and-rolls involving Young because of their defensive versatility. Miami also double-teamed Trae on the perimeter, which resulted in a turnover or a heavily contested shot attempt. If the Heat can keep this defensive urgency going, they’ll put themselves in great position to quickly win this series.
Kyle Lowry played point-of-attack defense on Trae Young. Lowry defended Young tightly on the perimeter, so he had no space to create his own shot. Nonetheless, Trae foolishly pulled up from downtown and completely misfired. Lowry stuck to Young like glue and perfectly closed out on him forcing that gruesome missed shot attempt.
Trae Young ran a pick and roll with Onyeka Okongwu, but Miami combatted it perfectly. Kyle Lowry originally defended Young and Bam Adebayo was on Okongwu. However, Bam switched onto Young in response to Onyeka’s screen and Lowry as well as Onyeka were battling for position in the paint. Adebayo defended Trae perfectly off of the switch. Bam used his mobility and length to prevent Young from attacking the rim. Trae was forced to make a pass and attempted to dish it to Okongwu in the painted area. Adebayo’s overwhelming length made it very difficult for Young to get off the pass, but he still managed to. However, Kyle was in a position to deflect Trae’s pass and that’s exactly what he did.
Bam Adebayo tightly played point-of-attack defense on Trae Young. DeAndre Hunter set a flare screen for Young so he could get a more favorable matchup in Max Strus. Trae attempted a crossover on Strus, but he didn’t bite on it. So, Young reverted to a step-back three, but Max closed out very well. Trae’s long range shot attempt was very short and hit the front of the rim.
Trae Young picked up his dribble far beyond the perimeter with seconds left to spare on the shot clock. Gabe Vincent was defending him, but he gave Young significant space to pull-up from three. Sure enough, Trae pulled up, but his three-ball attempt was no good. But, Onyeka Okongwu got the offensive rebound and passed to Young, who was cutting from the top of the perimeter to the left elbow. Kyle Lowry was defending DeAndre Hunter in the paint. But, he had to rotate onto Trae because Vincent was halfway down to the other end. Kyle successfully popped out onto the elbow and contested Young’s lengthy floater.
Gabe Vincent was Trae Young’s point-of-attack defender in the last possession of the first half. Young dribbled into a three-point attempt, but missed due to Vincent’s timely closeout. However, Trae managed to get the offensive rebound with seconds to spare in the quarter. Kyle Lowry and Gabe quickly double-teamed Young and pressured him into a heavily contested three that was off the mark.
P.J. Tucker played point-of-attack defense on Trae Young very close to Miami’s half-court logo. Onyeka Okongwu tried to initiate a pick-and-roll for him and Young. However, Bam Adebayo was ready for it as he played medium drop coverage on Trae. But, Young didn’t use Okongwu’s screen. Therefore, Tucker was able to quickly recover from it and perfectly contest Trae’s deep mid-range attempt.
Kyle Lowry once again played point-of-attack defense on Trae Young from way beyond the perimeter. Young tried to go cross-court and drive to the rim, but Lowry used his physicality and mobility to close off his lane. That resulted in Trae jacking up a step-back jump shot with the shot clock expiring.
Kyle Lowry continued to flawlessly defend Trae Young on the perimeter. Young stupidly threw up a long three-point attempt in early offense, but Lowry closed out well and it misfired.
It only got worse for Trae Young. The Miami Heat were playing 2-3 zone defense where Kyle Lowry and P.J. Tucker were on top. Lowry picked up Young slightly above the perimeter and cleanly poked the ball out of his hands. That resulted in a fast-break involving Lowry and Max Strus, where Kyle dished it to Max for an effortless dunk.