Luol Deng drives for a basket as Paul Milsap defends for Atlanta. Miami Heat vs. Atlanta Hawks. AmericanAirlines Arena, Miami, FL. 1/31/2016. Jim Rassol, Sun Sentinel.
The Hawks kick off the second half of the season Friday night against a depleted Miami Heat team at Philips Arena. The Hawks last took the floor back on February 10th in what was a blowout 113-90 win against the ailing Chicago Bulls. The Hawks offense was rolling, featuring eight double figure scorers and 25 team assists. Chicago on the other hand, couldn’t find any offensive rhythm without their leader Jimmy Butler.
After an early season win in Miami, the Heat have had their way with the Hawks in the last two meetings; especially on the defensive end. Over the last two meetings, the Heat have dominated the Hawks by an average score of 103-88. Tonight’s matchup however will feature a much different front line for the Miami Heat without All Star Chris Bosh (Calf Strain) and Hassan Whiteside (Suspension) both did not make the trip to Atlanta. This will leave the Heat extremely thin up front and should allow Paul Millsap and Al Horford to both have strong games. Miami coild also be without the services of All Star guard Dwayne Wade, who enters the game listed as “Day to Day” with “soreness”. If Wade is unable to go, the Heat would have to lean on Goran Dragic and Luol Deng to carry the majority of the scoring load. As for the Hawks, this could prove to be a trap game. Hawks are famous for letting shorthanded teams hang around in the game and even let them steal a few victories. The Hawks will have only 12 active players with Tiago Splitter out for the season after undergoing hip surgery. Newly acquired Guard Kirk Hinrich could make his Hawks debut if the game gets out of hand.
Keys to the game
1. Establish an early lead:
As mentioned above, the Miami Heat will be severely shorthanded. If you’re Atlanta, you must come out strong and get a good advantage early so an opportunity to earn a blowout and to rest the starters could happen considering the Hawks are playing the first game of a back to back.
2. Get the bigs in foul trouble:
With the Heat being so limited up front, foul trouble could spell doomsday for them and lead to a huge Hawks advantage.
Goran Dragic Jeff Teage
Dwyane Wade Kyle Korver
Loul Deng Kent Bazemore
Udonis Haslem Paul Millsap
Amare Stoudemire Al Horford
Gametime is 8:00PM at Philips Arena
Catch the game with Bob and Nique on FSSE or listen on 92.9FM with The Voice Steve Holman
Phil Veasley is a resident of Atlanta who has been a die-hard Hawks fan since 2005. He is Civil Engineer student at KSU. Currently, Phil writes for Atlanta Hawks Talk while also managing all ATLSportsHQ sites. He can be reached on Twitter at @_ATLPhil