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HEAT 95 - Hawks 89 Game Recap

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(Photo Credit: Kevin Cox)

The Miami HEAT knocked off the Atlanta Hawks 95-89 Friday night in Atlanta. The HEAT pulled away late in the fourth quarter to secure their fourth straight win. It's recap time:

Impact Performance of the Night: Tonight Chris Bosh and LeBron James are co-performers of the night. With Dwyane Wade out, Bosh and James were each excellent. James finished with 21 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists, falling just shy of his first triple-double of the season. Bosh scored 24 points on just 13 shots, and added five rebounds, three steals, two assists and a block.

The Deciding Run: Coming out of a timeout with 2:58 left, the HEAT trailed the Hawks by two points. The HEAT proceeded to go on a 10-2 run to close the Hawks out, allowing only a pair of free throws to Jeff Teague.

Play of the Game: Many will remember LeBron James’ jumper with 13 seconds left as the play of the game, but the real play of the game came on the preceding Hawks possession. Josh Smith attempted a lob to Al Horford and a retreating Chris Bosh was able to get a fingertip on the ball, deflecting it up in the air. Bosh was able to tip the ball again to Ray Allen, who secured possession for the HEAT. Bosh’s play was huge.

Efficiency Rating: Offensive Rating: 105.5; Defensive Efficiency: 94.6

Trend to Watch: The HEAT defense is rounding into form. Outside of Jeff Teague’s hyper-efficient night, the HEAT were able to contain the Hawks offense. Friday’s win marks the third straight strong defensive performance.

The Takeaway: The HEAT were able to beat a division rival, on the road, without Dwyane Wade. That’s a strong showing. Also, HEAT role players continue to contribute significantly. Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis provided scoring, Udonis Haslem controlled the glass and Norris Cole gave the HEAT a much needed spark.

Notes: Dwyane Wade missed Friday’s game with a cold; he’s listed as day-to-day. Mike Miller started his first game of the season and played 31 minutes. The win was the HEAT’s fourth straight and first on the road.

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    • By Joe B.
      Photo Credit: Matthew Stockman
      The Miami HEAT face the Cleveland Cavaliers Friday night at Quicken Loans Arena. The HEAT defeated the Cavaliers 122-101 in their last meeting on March 19. Tip-off is set for 7:30 PM. Television coverage on FOX Sports Sun begins at 7:00 PM. You can also listen to the action live on 790 The Ticket.
      1: While down for most of the second half, what led to Miami pulling within three against the Hawks on Wednesday?
      Couper Moorhead: This is where we throw the statistics out the window for a bit and talk about just how much this HEAT team, even with just nine available players for a stretch of four games in five nights, just seems to keep on coming no matter the score. Even with 15 losses, Miami’s net rating (pace adjusted average scoring differential) is -2.6, meaning they rarely actually get blown out. It just seems this team is allergic to being down double digits, and with players like Tyler Johnson and Rodney McGruder going all out all the time they tend to make enough hustle plays and run enough in transition to keep the team in it even on nights like Wednesday when the offense isn’t quite flowing as they would want it to. That sort of grit doesn’t always translate to wins, but it says a lot about the collective character of this group.
      Joe Beguiristain: Pure grit. Despite having just nine available players on the second night of a back-to-back, Miami made no excuses and kept grinding. While Tyler Johnson had a career-night, both Goran Dragić and Rodney McGruder were also instrumental in the comeback bid. Dragić fought through the fatigue and did all he could in the fourth quarter, while McGruder never stopped hustling on both ends.
      In short, the HEAT showed a lot of resolve to climb back and cut the deficit to single-digits a few times in the fourth. Although they ultimately fell short, you have to commend them for never giving up. That persistent mentality all starts at the top with Coach Spo, who always says that his team has enough to compete regardless of the circumstances. It remains to be seen how Miami will fare on a tough back-to-back set against the Cavaliers and Bulls, but you can rest assured that the HEAT will give it their all from beginning to end.  
      2: How have the Cavaliers started their season as defending champs?
      Couper: As you would expect the defending champs to do. Cleveland is 15-5 with an elite offense and an overall defensive rating that, hovering around league average, probably doesn’t quite tell the full story since Cleveland has so often been up early. The Cavs recently went on a three-game losing streak, with two coming on the road, against the Bucks, Clippers and Bulls, but this is one of those teams where the true story of their season will be told after April 15. It’s somewhat similar to the 2014 Miami HEAT, in that respect, as that team had just come off three-straight trips to the Finals, back-to-back titles and even a 27-game winning streak – there just wasn’t much left to prove in the regular season for a veteran group. So, they took a business-like approach to the regular season, won their games, and rounded into shape for the playoffs.
      Joe: Outside of a three-game losing streak last week, Cleveland has started the season pretty well. In fact, the Cavaliers are the best three-point shooting team in the league, which should come as no surprise given all the weapons they have. Here’s a crazy stat: Cleveland has four regular rotation players who shoot well over 40 percent from downtown. Of course, a lot of that has to do with LeBron James’ ability to consistently find the open man when opposing teams send a double team his way. While that’s nothing new, James is averaging a career-high 9.1 assists per game this season. Otherwise, Kyrie Irving has been superb on the offensive end, especially from mid-range.
      Things haven’t been as sharp for the Cavaliers on the defensive side of things, as they rank below league average in efficiency. That said, this is a team that can turn it on at a moment’s notice. 
      3: How can Miami defend LeBron James and is narrowing it down to that one matchup even the right way to think about the Cavaliers anymore?
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      Joe: Like I stated in my previous response, Cleveland has so many weapons that you can’t just solely focus in on James. If it’s not Irving torching you from distance, it’s Kevin Love, who is shooting a career-best 42.2 percent from beyond the arc. Let’s also not forget the forward’s 34-point first quarter against the Trail Blazers on November 23.  
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      December 5-Cavaliers at HEAT
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    • By Joe B.
      Photo Credit: Scott Cunningham
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    • By Joe B.
      Photo Credit: Kevin C. Cox
      The Miami HEAT face the Atlanta Hawks Wednesday night at Philips Arena. The HEAT fell to the Hawks 93-90 in their last meeting on November 15. Tip-off is set for 7:30 PM. Television coverage on FOX Sports Sun begins at 7:00 PM. You can also listen to the action live on 790 The Ticket.
      1: What led to Miami’s home loss to the Knicks and what will Miami need to clean up headed to Atlanta?
      Couper Moorhead: Erik Spoelstra and Goran Dragic talked about it after the game for a reason – the HEAT allowed 18 offensive rebounds and 31 second-chance points. Considering how New York struggled early in this game to find a good offensive rhythm, and was ice-cold from three, all those second opportunities kept them in the game so that by the time Carmelo Anthony went off in the second half, it led to the Knicks taking control of the game. Miami is obviously depleted right now with only nine available players Tuesday night and for the rest of the week, but they can only give their defense a chance to give them a win by finishing their defensive possessions.
      Joe Beguiristain: Like Coup said above, the HEAT just gave the Knicks too many second-chance opportunities. In particular, Joakim Noah and Kyle O’Quinn racked up offensive boards to give New York life. It was really disappointing because there were a number of instances where Miami did everything it needed for a stop outside of grabbing the defensive board.  
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      Otherwise, we learned that Tim Hardaway Jr. seems to be a valuable rotation player for the Hawks. In fact, the 24-year-old has one of the highest net ratings on the team and is shooting a career-high 46.8 percent from the field. There’s a good chance we’ll see Johnson matched-up with Hardaway Jr. at certain points throughout the game. 
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      February 19-HEAT at Hawks
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      The HEAT are 7-14, while the Hawks stand at 10-12 after losing seven straight.   Goran Dragić is averaging 17.8 points, 6.7 assists and 1.1 steals per contest. Paul Millsap leads Atlanta in scoring at 16.5 points per game.  
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