In their first-round playoff series against the Atlanta Hawks, the Eastern Conference’s top-seeded Miami Heat will try to take a 2-0 lead Tuesday after an impressive Game 1 display.
Despite finishing ninth in the East, Atlanta made the playoffs by winning play-in games against Charlotte and Cleveland. However, the Hawks couldn’t carry that momentum into their first-round series, as the Heat cruised to a Game 1 victory by a score of 115-91. The game was never close after the first quarter, thanks to Miami’s suffocating defense, which stifled Trae Young and company from the opening tip.
Duncan Robinson led Miami with 27 points and hit 8 of 9 3-point attempts off the bench to help build a 32-point lead.
Jimmy Butler chipped in 21 points, P.J. Tucker scored 16 points, and Kyle Lowry dished out nine assists.
Lowry also contributed to the lockdown defense on Trae Young, who finished with just eight points while shooting just 1 of 12 from the floor. For Young, it was just the second time in the 2021-22 campaign that an opponent held him to single digits. It was also his first single digit-scoring game in 17 career playoff games.
Miami’s ability to hold onto its advantage in the best-of-seven series will be determined by its ability to adjust once Young, who averages 28.4 points per game, starts making shots. Four times against Miami, Young scored 102 points, including 35 in a 113-109 Heat win on April 8.
To get back into the series, the Hawks must overcome one of the NBA’s toughest defenses. Miami’s scoring defense was fourth best in the NBA in the regular season, allowing 105.6 points per game. They forced 18 turnovers on Sunday and held Atlanta to 38.7% shooting.
The Hawks were led by Gallinari’s 17 points in the loss. The only players in the starting lineup for Atlanta in double figures were Gallinari and De’Andre Hunter. John Collins and Kevin Knox each had 10 points off the bench.
Photographer: Melissa Tamez/Icon Sportswire
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