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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.
While Carmelo Anthony caught fire in the second half, he started off just 5-of-12 thanks in large part to Rodney McGruder. Kristaps Porzingis, meanwhile, was held in check for a majority of the night, as he shot just 6-of-15 on the evening. If Miami would have done the little things right, perhaps there would have been a different outcome to the game. Moving forward, the HEAT have to secure the defensive rebound after the initial stop.
2: What did we learn about the matchup with the new-look Hawks in the first meeting this season?
Couper: Unlike the Knicks game, the first game with Atlanta was actually one that Miami dominated on the glass, largely because Hassan Whiteside couldn’t be contained. Dwight Howard left the game with an injury during the second half, but he and Whiteside were enjoying a healthy battle before that. Once Howard went out, and any time he was on the bench, there was nobody on Atlanta’s roster who could consistently keep Whiteside away from the rim. That, for Wednesday night, should be very encouraging.
Also, Kyle Korver only got four shots on in that game as Spoelstra, as per usual, made sure his defenders always knew where he was.
Joe: Since Coup already mentioned Whiteside’s dominance against the Hawks the last time out, I’ll discuss two other guys who will be instrumental if Miami wants to come away with the win. In that last matchup against Atlanta, both McGruder and Tyler Johnson made some big plays down the stretch to narrow the gap. While both guys received over 30 minutes of playing time in that game, they will need to do more with just nine guys available this time around.
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.
3: What aspect of Atlanta’s current losing streak could work in Miami’s favor Wednesday night?
Couper: The Hawks have lost 10 of their last 11 games, but there’s some context to consider there. Seven of those losses were on the road, including a five-point loss to the Warriors on the second night of a back-to-back, and three of those games did not include Paul Millsap (the Hawks lost by 30 or more in two of his absences). So there was some bad injury luck mixed in there with a tough spot in the schedule, though Millsap is now back in the lineup. That said, Atlanta’s defensive rating during those 11 games was a 109.3, so if there continues to be slippage on that end then Miami and especially Dragic could find an advantage by staying in attack mode – especially if the team can keep him playing downhill with solid screens, pace and the proper spacing.
Joe: The Hawks have surprisingly dropped seven straight, as injuries and poor play all-around have plagued the team. Here are some startling numbers: Atlanta is ranked last in offensive efficiency (90.2) and 25th in defensive efficiency (109.6) over its seven-game skid. That just doesn’t sound like the Mike Budenholzer led teams we’ve seen over the past few seasons.
With the Hawks struggling, the HEAT should have some success on both ends of the floor. The two-man game between Goran Dragić and Whiteside has been pretty deadly of late, so perhaps that can continue in Atlanta. That said, you never know what to expect in the NBA. In all, it should be an intriguing matchup between two teams starving for a victory.
November 15-Hawks at HEAT
February 19-HEAT at Hawks
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.
HEAT Offense: 100.6 (24) HEAT Defense: 102.8 (13) Hawks Offense: 99.0 (27) Hawks Defense: 100.5 (2)
By Joe B.
Photo Credit: Oscar Baldizon
The Miami HEAT host the New York Knicks Tuesday night at AmericanAirlines Arena. Get your tickets now! The HEAT defeated the Knicks 98-81 in their last meeting on February 28. 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: Despite the end result, did Miami continue any positive trends from the three-game road trip as they took on Portland?
Couper Moorhead: Until the road trip and long minutes appeared to take a toll of the team down the stretch, Miami’s offense had continued to be full of energy and movement as Goran Dragic led the way through drive after drive after drive into the paint. And when Dragic didn’t have the ball in his hands, it was Josh McRoberts running the point for stretches or Hassan Whiteside finding deep position in the paint (where he was incredibly efficient) or Wayne Ellington running off screens. The offense wasn’t perfect, but it kept things moving and all the little things the HEAT have added to their scoring diet in the past week should help them build a more complete approach as players return from injury.
The defense, however, was also significantly stronger against Portland. That was partially due to Utah being red-hot from the perimeter, but the HEAT guards did very well chasing Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum around screens so they wouldn’t have enough air space for a comfortable jumper. A lot of that came from Rodney McGruder, who is proving himself to be a most dependable defensive option.
Joe Beguiristain: While Miami ultimately fell short in Portland, the team did continue to show improvement on both sides of the ball. Perhaps most impressive was how the HEAT limited Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum to a combined 13-of-37 shooting from the field. In particular, Rodney McGruder, Tyler Johnson and Goran Dragić did a great job on both guys for a majority of the contest. As a whole, Miami held Portland to just 40.4 percent shooting.
On the flip side of the ball, the two-man game between Dragić and Hassan Whiteside continued to be extremely effective. The Slovenian attacked the basket and knocked down jumpers thanks to good screens from Whiteside, while the big fella did a little bit of everything against Portland’s bigs. In short, both guys emptied the tank and gave it all they had in a valiant effort against the Trail Blazers.
2: How has New York’s offseason moves affected their team so far?
Couper: After adding Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah in the offseason, the Knicks are scoring over 108 points per 100 possessions with either of them on the floor and with another acquisition in Courtney Lee shooting well over 40 percent from three they’ve been an above-average offense overall so far. But additions can also come from internal development as Kristaps Porzingis has entered this season as a significantly improved offensive player, scoring 20 points per game on about the same number of possessions he used during his rookie season when he averaged 14. This is as dynamic an offense as the Knicks have had since their playoff runs a few seasons ago. They’re also 11-9 based on a defense that currently ranks below average, but that doesn’t take away from this being one of the tougher teams to gameplan for in the league these days.
Joe: The Knicks have improved on the offensive end thus far thanks to the additions of Derrick Rose, Courtney Lee, and Brandon Jennings. While Jennings provides a spark off the bench for New York, both Rose and Lee have been producing well in the staring lineup. In the case of Rose, the 28-year-old is averaging 19.3 points, 4.9 assists and 4.3 rebounds per game on 46.8 percent shooting in his last ten. He’s also been getting to the free throw line at a higher rate during that time frame. We all know what Rose is capable of when healthy, and he seems to be in a good place right now. Thanks in part to the playmaking point guard, the Knicks have won three straight and are two games over .500 for the first time this season.
3: How do you think Miami will defensively handle New York’s leading scorers in Carmelo Anthony and Kristaps Porzingis?
Couper: To answer this we must first discuss Miami’s injury situation. James Johnson, Justise Winslow and Dion Waiters have all been ruled out for the game. Josh Richardson and Luke Babbitt are both doubtful. So Miami will be shorthanded in general but could also be missing a chunk of its non-center size, meaning anyone other than Derrick Williams could potentially be giving up both inches and pounds to the 6-foot-8 Anthony. Miami still has a ton of gritty defenders, but if Anthony has a size advantage in the post it will take a disciplined array of help defenders to keep him away from the rim.
As for Porzingis, you could see some cross-matching between him and Whiteside. Miami could want Whiteside to get Porzingis switched on to him so Whiteside can get good position in the post, but by the same token asking Whiteside to chase the Knicks’ high-volume shooter feet beyond the three-point line is quite the task for a full game. The guess would be that Whiteside starts the game defending Noah or Kyle O’Quinn, depending on who is in the lineup, and then we see the Whiteside-Porzingis matchup later in the game when New York goes small with Anthony at the four spot.
Joe: As Coup mentioned above, things will be tough without James Johnson, Justise Winslow or Dion Waiters. Last season, we were treated to great matchups between Winslow and Carmelo Anthony, but unfortunately that won’t be the case this time around. Even though McGruder is giving up a bunch of size, perhaps we’ll see him defending Anthony on the perimeter at certain points in the game. Otherwise, we could see Derrick Williams or Josh McRoberts on Anthony from time to time.
Kristaps Porzingis, meanwhile, has really taken a leap forward in his sophomore season. The 21-year-old has upped his production in nearly every facet, with the biggest jumps coming in points per game and field goal percentage. McRoberts will likely start on the talented big unless Miami wants to cross-match like Coup stated above. Regardless of who guards Porzingis, they will have to give him no space on the perimeter since nearly 43 percent of his shots come off catch-and-shoot opportunities. Again, it’ll be tough, but we’ll see how it all pans out on Tuesday night.
February 28-HEAT at Knicks
January 6-Knicks at HEAT
The HEAT have won two of three and are 7-13. The Knicks have won three straight and stand at 11-9. Hassan Whiteside leads Miami in points (17.8), rebounds (14.9) and blocks (2.6) per game. Carmelo Anthony leads New York in scoring at 22.5 points per contest.
HEAT Offense: 100.2 (24) HEAT Defense: 102.1 (11) Knicks Offense: 104.4 (13) Knicks Defense: 107.2 (27)
By Joe B.
Photo Credit: Oscar Baldizon
At 3:00 PM EST, I will ask a trivia question for a pair of tickets to tomorrow night’s game against the Knicks. Please keep in mind that you must be at least 18-years-old in order to qualify and must reside in Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach or Monroe County. Also, you are ineligible if you've already won tickets this calendar month.
Please only play/answer if you can attend and qualify based on these rules.