The Atlanta Hawks are in Miami again tonight for a southeast division clash. The game will tip off at 7:30 PM EST at American Airlines Arena.
For the Heat
Miami is currently riding a six-game win streak going into tonight’s game. Their win over the Hawks on Sunday came after an impressive victory against the Jazz on Friday. In the game with Utah, Jimmy Butler showed once again why he is considered one of the top players in the East. The five-time all-star had 33 points to go along with 10 rebounds and 8 assists. Butler is having another great season, posting 20/8/8 with high level defense as always.
While currently the Heat’s best player, Butler may not hold that title for long. Bam Adebayo is every bit of the star the Heat were hoping for when they drafted him back in 2017. Taken five picks ahead of John Collins, he has only improved upon his all-star campaign last year, averaging four more points per game on increased efficiency. Despite Butler and Adebayo’s offensive abilities, the Heat rank 24th in the NBA in offensive rating. On the flip side, however, they currently carry a top 10 defensive rating. The team, of course, identifies as a defensive minded unit but has been finding their rhythm as of late, averaging 111.8 points per game during their win streak.
The Heat have struggled staying healthy this year, with Goran Dragic, Tyler Herro, Jimmy Butler, and Avery Bradley all missing at least 10 games. Still, despite being without Butler and Bradley Sunday, the Heat contained the Hawks and ultimately put the final dagger in the Pierce era. They’ll look to make Nate Mcmillan’s first night as interim head coach as difficult as possible. For tonight’s game, Gabe Vincent is probable, and Butler is listed as questionable. Avery Bradley and Meyers Leonard are ruled out.
For the Hawks
Atlanta was feeling great after an exciting win in Boston last Wednesday but are on a two-game losing streak after Sunday’s poor performance against Miami. This game would ultimately end up being the final one of the Pierce era in Atlanta. The Hawks tied the game late after being down double digits in the second half but were unable to get stops or make shots when it mattered — a familiar trend during Pierce’s tenure.
It’s not all doom and gloom in Atlanta, however, as many fans seem to be excited for the Nate McMillan experience. McMillan is a veteran head coach with an all time record of 661-588 to go along with nine playoff appearances. However, if Hawks fans and observers are expecting a major shakeup in game-planning or rotations to take place immediately, they may be disappointed. Nate Mcmillan stated in his press conference that he believes in the system in place, and that the only changes he will be making will be minor for now. Still, a new voice and a new decision maker may be just the shakeup the team needs, as the Hawks are still open about their goal of making the playoffs.
Bogdan Bogdanovic is listed as questionable for tonight’s game, and general manager Travis Schlenk stated on 92.9 the Game this morning that the plan is for Bogi to be on a minutes restriction. The exact number was not released, but any minutes the team gets from their free agent wing will be welcomed at this time. Beyond Bogdanovic, the Hawks have Kevin Huerter listed as probable with upper back tightness. Kris Dunn, De’Andre Hunter, and Cam Reddish are out.
The Heat had the Hawks number all night on Sunday, but Atlanta will look to bounce back with their new head coach leading the way. If the Hawks hope to pull this one out, they’ll need a big night from Young and for Capela to use his size to bother Adebayo, which few have been able to accomplish. The Heat are playing inspired basketball as of late and will look to extend their win streak to seven.
In a season that feels like every time the Hawks take a step forward, they follow it up with two steps back, a win tonight could be a turning point for a young team looking for confidence. Whether it be due to injury, coaching, or just bad luck, the Hawks are in need of some positive momentum. After tonight, they travel to Orlando to take on the Magic in their last game before the all-star break.