Trae Young struggles against the Heat
Great players cannot be stopped; you can only limit their production. Trae Young, a rising star in the league, is on his way to becoming a great player, but the Miami Heat are keeping him in check in their series.
In the first round against the Heat, Young is averaging 16.5 points, 6.0 assists, and 4.3 rebounds on 48.8% TS so far. Good numbers but not on par with Trae's usual output. He averaged 28.4 points in the regular season. So how do Erik Spoelstra and his boys do something many NBA teams failed before? They have counters to every Trae Young move.
The Atlanta Hawks star makes his damage shooting long-range bombs, floaters, and pick-and-rolls. The Heat deployed Bam Adebayo, Jimmy Butler, and PJ Tucker to counter those. This shows the level of respect Miami has for Trae: they're putting three All-Star defense type of players to contain him. Young had no answers for the defense schemes thrown at him.
Miami successfully gets Young out of his rhythm. The sharpshooter has the same number of assists and turnovers in their series. Trae is also hoisting more 3-pointers than 2-pointers, a testament that the Heat is willing and daring him to shoot instead of giving him the driving lane to score or create.
The Hawks rely on their starting point guard's craftiness to score 1.06 points per possession during the regular season on pick-and-rolls. This dipped to 0.93 points per possession in this series. The switch-heavy Miami defense is throwing anything but the kitchen sink to Ice Trae. Also, seven Heat players have defended Young for at least 15 possessions in this series. Basketball News' Nekias Duncan noted that Trae's teammates fail to do their part when the ball gets to them.
The 4-year veteran is not making any excuses for his struggles and gives props to the opposing team.
"I haven't been guarded like this... consistently since high school, and obviously it's a lot better competition. It's hard for me to score a lot through the double-teams and face-guards at this level. It's a challenge for me."
Other teams should copy Miami Heat's blueprint
Limiting Trae Young is easier said than done. The Heat relies on its plethora of undersized big men and wing players to put a clamp on the Hawks star. Young's light frame isn't helping him either. Tucker and Butler are more than willing to body him whenever he tries to get into the driving lanes.
Credits must also be given to Miami's coaching staff and Erik Spoelstra. If the Heat wins this one, it shows how good of a coach Erik still is, and his defensive schemes prove he is still on top of his game.
Trae's struggle could end if his teammates do their part. Once the outside shots start to fall, the defense would open up for Young to violate. But until the other Hawks players do their job, the series could end sooner than later. It's not easy stopping the head of the snake of the Atlanta Hawks, but the Miami Heat has been successful so far, and other teams should note what they are doing differently.