Jump to content
4 posts in this topic
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)