It is either a loser’s lament or playing it forward, but, either, way, Trae Young very much went there with his Atlanta Hawks down 0-2 to the Miami Heat in this best-of-seven NBA opening-round series.
When it doubt, officiate it out. And out loud.
So in the wake of watching the Heat close 25 of 29 from the foul line in their 115-105 victory on Tuesday night at FTX Arena, in a game the Hawks went 11 of 14 on free throws, Young went for the uncommon denominator.
“I mean, it’s tough,” the All-Star guard said, with the series now idle until Friday’s 7 p.m. Game 3 at State Farm Arena. “Obviously, we feel like we let one slide. You can’t let it linger too far. I mean, we’ve got another game in a couple days. So, obviously we felt like that one slipped away.”
And then came a comment clearly meant to send a message to Friday’s officiating crew.
“I mean,” he said, “if the refs are going to let them be as physical as they are and not call fouls, I’m mean it’s going to be hard to really do anything, anyway.
“Got to be a little bit better with knowing where we got to be and just be ready to take care of home.”
Not only did the Heat outscore the Hawks by 14 from the line in Game 2, but Heat forward Jimmy Butler personally went 11 of 24 in his 45-point performance, a career postseason high.
Young, by contrast, closed 3 of 4 from the line.
As a matter of perspective, Young averaged 7.3 free-throw attempts per game this season, with a career 7.4 average. He averaged 8.4 per game in last year’s run by the Hawks to the Eastern Conference finals. Young was 6 of 7 from the line in Atlanta’s 115-91 Game 1 loss on Sunday night, a night he was limited to eight points. He scored 25 Tuesday, both down from his 28.4 regular-season average.
“I mean they were doing pretty much the same things,” he said of the Heat defense remaining in lockstep from Game 1, “being aggressive and being in their gaps, forcing us to make threes, really not letting us get into the basket and into the paint.
“We all have to get to our spots a little bit better.”
Of course, there also was another glaring number, with Young closing Tuesday night with a career-high 10 turnovers, the most ever by a Heat opponent in the playoffs.
“I have to do a better job, obviously, of taking care of the ball and being stronger with the ball,” he said. “Just have to get back and watch the tape.”