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Danny

Miami HEAT at Atlanta Hawks Official Game Thread and Preview

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670_heathawkspre_130220.jpg

(Photo Credit: Scott Cunningham)

The Miami HEAT return from the All-Star break tonight, when they take on the Atlanta Hawks at Philips Arena. The HEAT have won seven straight games and are 36-14. The Hawks enter with a record of 29-22 and winner of three of their last four games. Tip off is set for 8 PM; coverage on Sun Sports starts at 7:30 PM.

1: What are the chances that the Atlanta team we’re writing about right now is the same Atlanta team playing the HEAT Wednesday night?

Couper Moorhead: You never know what can happen in the days before the trade deadline, but the most likely scenario were the Hawks to pull off a deal before this game is not that they would be a new team, but half a team. It takes time for players to travel and clear physical requirements that make deals official, so it’s entirely possible that the Hawks could be without a chunk of their normal rotation. Rumors are just rumors until something happens, but something happening could make this an unusual contest.

Danny Martinez: It’s impossible to put a number on something like this. The Hawks look to be a team in transition. With new leadership and expiring contracts, the Hawks have an eye on 2014 and beyond. Whether or not Josh Smith is a part of that, I don’t know. I’d expect Smith to be starting Wednesday night, but I suppose I won’t be shocked if he’s not. Anything can happen at the trade deadline.

2: What are Miami’s post-break goals?

Couper: Get to the playoffs healthy and playing well. Nothing is more important than health, and this team has established both a level of play and the capability to reach that level against top-tier opponents. It isn’t the most compelling of second-half storylines, but that lack of drama is a luxury few teams have.

Danny: Most importantly, the HEAT will look to keep everyone healthy. On the floor, I think the HEAT will look to tighten up the defense and defensive rebounding. Both have gotten better over the course of the season. Continued improvement before the postseason is an attainable goal that I expect the HEAT to reach.

3: Has Jeff Teague met (so far) the expectations many had for him after Joe Johnson was traded?

Couper: In just about every way possible, yes. Teague isn’t without blame for Atlanta’s January swoon, but in almost the exact same amount of minutes as last season he’s improved his assist rate and his shooting, filling in efficiently for the playmaking of Johnson. If Teague can maintain an above-average percentage from three, the main thing for him to focus on will be getting to the free-throw line more. But for the time being, he’s right on track.

Danny: Teague has taken a step forward this season. His usage is at a career high and he’s still producing at a similar efficiency. Often, when players see a big jump in usage, they see their efficiency tail off. By improving his three-point shooting and assist percentage, Teague has maintained his production. His play is encouraging for the Hawks, who consider Teague as part of their long-term plan.

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After watching that video, I hope Chalmers abuses Teague on the perimeter again. There's no reason he can't do this kind of stuff more often.

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What's up my fellow HEAT fans? Seems like forever since we've witnessed the champs in action. I'm just wondering what type of mindset will MIAMI come out with, will they look to establish their dominance, or will they come in lackadasical? Those questions will be answered in an hour or so, let's get it...TEAM HEATsince '88!

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We're not the only ones with a hangover apparently. Knicks are getting blown up by the Pacers as we speak.

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I'm pretty f***ing grateful we're not playing the Pacers. 91-57 for the Pacers over the Knicks ... damn man.

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Holy **** the Knicks are losing 66 to 102 and it's only the 3rd quarter! The Pacers are getting scary.

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Holy **** the Knicks are losing 66 to 102 and it's only the 3rd quarter! The Pacers are getting scary.

2013 ECF: Heat vs Pacers

Bank on it.

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I think it's a fair assumption to say that MIAMI is stuck in neutral; therefore, I'll reserve my comments until further observation. Let's see if MIAMI is capable of playing like champions in the 2nd half...TEAM HEAT since '88!

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I wouldn't overreact to one game though. Pacers are basically playing as good as they can possibly play while the Knicks seem to be trying their damn hardest to get under 20% FG.

Still, I think Pacers are the dark horse.

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