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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: Issac Baldizon
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      1: What takeaway that you had from the win in Orlando do you think could carry over to Friday night’s game?
      Couper Moorhead: As Evan Fournier put it following that game, it was drives on drives on drives for Miami. The HEAT’s 44 total drives on the night (producing 23 points and another six assists) was seven more than the league leader averaged last season, and those drives along with transition opportunities and offensive rebounds led to a whopping 74 points in the paint. It’ll be tough to reach that total consistently without better outside shooting than Miami had on Wednesday, but there’s little doubt that this team’s identity is all about creating spaces and lanes and edges that Miami’s group of quick athletes can utilize in order to get into the paint. That identity isn’t going to change, but the manner in which the HEAT are going to be able to get to it will certainly have to adapt over the course of the season as teams gameplan and, better than Orlando did, stick to those gameplans.
      Joe Beguiristain: While it will be extremely difficult to hold the opposition to below 40 percent shooting on a consistent basis, I believe Miami can carry over its solid defensive disposition from Wednesday night. It’s no secret that the foundation of every HEAT team, regardless of personnel, is a strong commitment to the defensive end. That was on display often against Orlando, as Miami forced the Magic to shoot just 38.6 percent on the night.  Hassan Whiteside played a huge role in that, especially in a game-changing third quarter for the HEAT. Thanks to his rim protection, Orlando shot a paltry 25 percent in the period.
      Another thing that might carry over to Friday night is the balanced scoring attack for Miami. Thanks to the team’s pristine ball movement and 27 assists, six players scored in double-figures against the Magic. It’s that kind of unselfishness that leads to wins more often than not.  
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      For Miami, that means getting into the paint as well as they did against Orlando could be much more difficult. Kidd-Gilchrist can cut off driving lanes as well as just about any defender in the league not named Kawhi Leonard and Hibbert looks revitalized in a system once again built around his rim protection. As such, Miami may have to find ways to succeed in the in-between spaces, not attacking one-on-one but not taking one or two dribbles straight at the rim either.
      Joe: While it was still the preseason, Miami got a good look at Charlotte’s revamped roster on October 20. Since the HEAT were without a number of key contributors, there’s not much to glean from that game, but Steve Clifford treated that matchup last week as a dress rehearsal for the real thing.
      The team is still led by Kemba Walker and Nicolas Batum, while newcomers Roy Hibbert, Marco Belinelli and Ramon Sessions try to mesh with the already-established core. In particular, the Walker-Hibbert pick-and-roll should develop over time and cause some problems for the opposition. That said, perhaps the Hornets’ biggest addition is Michael Kidd-Gilchrist coming back from injury. The 23-year-old is easily one of the best defensive players in the league when healthy, and while he’s still developing his offensive game, he took a major leap forward against the Bucks on Wednesday night. In that contest, Kidd-Gilchrist scored 23 points on 10-of-18 shooting, grabbed 14 rebounds and tallied a plus-10 rating.
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      3: Do you expect the same starting lineup for Miami and how can it find success against the Hornets?
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      Joe: I do. There’s no reason to get away from the same starting lineup unless there is an injury of some sort. With Goran Dragić, Justise Winslow and Hassan Whiteside foregone conclusions as starters, both Luke Babbitt and Dion Waiters had their moments on Wednesday night, primarily in the third quarter. Babbitt spaced the floor and opened up driving lanes for the HEAT, while Waiters dished out all four of his assists in the third (two of which were to Babbitt), and kept the offense moving in the right direction.
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      Efficiencies (Rank):
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      1: What’s your best guess at the starting lineup and rotation for Game 1?
      Couper Moorhead: It seems fair to assume that Goran Dragić, Justise Winslow and Hassan Whiteside are locked into the starting lineup, which leaves us with just two spots that are up in the air. At the power forward spot, Derrick Williams is the educated guess simply because he played more minutes than anyone on the team during preseason and shared a large chunk of his time with the other three starters. Part of that may have been Josh McRoberts being injured, Luke Babbitt suffering a strained groin and James Johnson dealing with a foot issue during preseason, but for now Williams makes sense. His athleticism and ability to play in the open court pairs particularly well with Dragić.
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      Joe: At this juncture, seeing the team continue to build chemistry would be a success in my mind. With a few players out and a bunch of new faces still feeling each other out, things are still largely a work in progress. How the team looks and performs now can be night and day from how things look a few months from now. The rotation might change, certain players might emerge, etc. That’s why it’s really important to not get too high or too low in the early going.
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