On Saturday morning, as part of the regular NBA championship, the Miami Heat host Atlanta Hawks at the Kaseya Center.
After Butler's return, Miami Heat demonstrated a decent performance, winning 5 out of the last 8 matches, but they are eager to recuperate after their three-win streak was interrupted by the Toronto Raptors with a score of 97:121 on Thursday. In this game, Jimmy Butler, Bam Adebayo and Tyler Herro each scored 16 points but generally underperformed, while Duncan Robinson added 14 points. However, the team only managed to achieve a low efficiency, making only 45% of shots and 6 out of 28 three-pointers. Kyle Lowry only scored 4 points, reflecting the team's overall difficulties in that game.
Heat's coach Erik Spoelstra, who recently signed a big new contract, acknowledged the unexpected nature of the loss to the Raptors, especially considering the team's weak defence that allowed Toronto to score a record number of three-pointers. Herro, Miami's top scorer with an average of 22.4 points per game, also acknowledged defensive weaknesses, citing difficulties in making shots in the last game. However, the upcoming matches against Orlando, Memphis, and Boston offer the Heat the opportunity to get back on track. The game against Atlanta, where the Heat aim to clinch their first win against them in the regular season since March 2, 2021, counting 2 wins this season and 8 out of the last 9 games will be particularly significant.
Recently, the Atlanta Hawks have been showing a consistent play, having won 5 out of the last 9 games, and are aimed for a third consecutive win after a recent cool victory over the Orlando Magic with a score of 106:104. In this game, Dejounte Murray made a significant contribution, scoring 26 points and making 5 assists, executing 11 out of his 18 attempts. Trae Young also demonstrated his skills, adding 18 points and 12 assists, while Onyeka Okongwu played a key role with 15 points and 9 rebounds, coming off the bench. The Hawks have showcased their efficiency, making 51% of their shots and 8 out of 25 attempts from the three-point line.
Approaching mid-season, the Atlanta Hawks recognise the need to increase the pace of the game to make the playoffs for the fourth consecutive year. The key role in the last game was played by Murray, who decided the match with Magic by his precise shot in the closing moments, helping the team prevent a third loss in 4 matches. The upcoming match with Miami Heat will provide another opportunity for the Hawks to consolidate their position in the Eastern Conference. Coach Quin Snyder's decision to avoid a timeout at the end of the game with Magic and show his trust in Murray paid off, as Murray delivered the goods. Murray, boasting his best season with shot accuracy of 47.1%, continues to perform with assurance and remains a key player in the team despite the rumours of a trade before the transfer deadline on February 8th.
Without the injured Hakes, Miami troubles to score three-pointers, and even with the comeback of Jimbo, Heat doesn't look that strong, considering the form of Atlanta. I won't bet on the outcome, but I will bet on the total points over, as Atlanta likes to increase the tempo.