In the weird context and existence that is being a veteran bench player on a bad Atlanta Hawks team while trying to put his career back on track, the kind of game Jeremy Lin had against the Cleveland Cavaliers is almost a mini-cause for celebration.
Of course, when you lose 136-114 to the previously win-less Cavs, there’s nothing to celebrate. But for Lin, playing a season-high 24 minutes which resulted in 12 points and 8 assists, there’s something to be individually happy about.
Lin wasn’t consistent and great through the whole game – there were the misses and turnovers that are naturally part of someone who has a lot of rust to shed, but he got to touch the ball early in his stints on the floor, which got him into a much better rhythm than in recent games.
What was most impressive to me was Lin’s change of pace. He made good decisions in the half court sets, and had the awareness to take it up a notch or two when the Cavs were slow to return on D. And 8 assists? It was the first time this season we saw Lin playing the full facilitator role, and his highest assist tally since April 1, 2017, during a nice late-season stretch with the Brooklyn Nets.
Personally, from the little we’ve seen of Lin this season, I didn’t feel like Lloyd Pierce has big plans for involving him, but his back-to-back handling of minutes, which are still restricted otherwise he would have played a whole of a lot more than just 24 based on his production and the team’s play during his minutes, shows that I was wrong about that assumption, at least for now.
By the looks of things, it’s not going to be smooth sailing for Lin, and certainly not for the Hawks in any case, from now on. It’ll be quite a few nights of of sub-20 minutes games before we start seeing regularly more and more if the last 2 games were any indication.
But on a team that’s heading nowhere, for a player in a weird territory, the relative lows of his early comeback trek were replaced, at least for one game, by a performance he had every right to be happy about.
Lin’s averages after 7 games: 5.9 points, 2.1 rebounds, 2.3 assists in 14.6 minutes a night, shooting 34.2% from the field and 21.4% from beyond the arc.