Monday, March 27, 2023

NBA Preview: Atlanta Hawks (32-31) at Miami Heat (33-31)

The Atlanta Hawks will begin a four-game road trip on Saturday with the first of two games against the Miami Heat, a team that is attempting to advance from the play-in tournament and into the playoffs.

Miami is currently seventh in the Eastern Conference, one half-game ahead of the eighth-place Hawks and two and a half games behind sixth-place Brooklyn Nets.

The Miami Heat have lost two consecutive games and six of their last seven, including Friday’s 122-120 defeat to the visiting New York Knicks.

The Hawks have won three of their last four games, and on Friday, they beat the visiting Portland Trail Blazers by a score of 129-111, giving new coach Quin Snyder his first victory.

This will be the third of the season’s four meetings between the teams. They split the previous two Atlanta meetings. On Monday, the Hawks and Heat will meet once more in Miami, where the Heat have won the previous two encounters.

Dejounte Murray scored a career-high 41 points for Atlanta, and Trae Young scored 23 points and had 11 assists against Portland. Together, the two shot 23-for-36 from the field, including 10-for-10 from the foul line and 8-for-10 from 3-point range.

In 38 games, the Hawks have scored 100 points. This season, they have only lost two games by double digits, one of which was a 106-98 defeat to Miami on Nov. 27.

After losing in his Hawks debut on Tuesday to the Washington Wizards, former Utah Jazz coach Snyder has left Atlanta with a record of 1-1.

A nine-man rotation will be used, Snyder has stated. That almost certainly indicates that either AJ Griffin or Jalen Johnson will be the outlier. Johnson got the minutes on Friday, scoring eight points, grabbing four rebounds, and dishing out four assists in 22 minutes. Griffin only played the final two minutes because neither team had a bench.

Griffin played 16 minutes against Washington, but Johnson did not play.

Jimmy Butler’s play has been a bright spot for Miami. He was 18-for-20 from three against the Knicks and scored 33 points. The seasoned player is averaging 22.0 points, 5.9 rebounds, and 5.0 assists per game. In the Hawks’ 121-113 defeat on Jan. 16, Butler scored 34 points, giving him a career average of 18.8 points in 31 games against Atlanta.

Tyler Herro, a guard for the Heat, is averaging 20.4 points, 5.6 rebounds, and 4.3 assists per game. Against the Knicks, he scored 29 points and made five 3-pointers. On Nov. 27, he recorded a triple-double against the Hawks, scoring 11, grabbing 11, and dishing out 10 assists.

Bam Adebayo, who scored 18 points on Friday, has scored in the double digits in all 59 games he has played this season and a career-high 75 games since last year, which is tied with Alonzo Mourning for the team’s fifth-longest streak.

The Heat will continue to play without Kyle Lowry, who has been experiencing pain in his left knee and has missed 11 games.

Lowry’s minutes will continue to be filled by Gabe Vincent.

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