Archives For Miami Heat

Issac Baldizon/NBAE/Getty Images

Issac Baldizon/NBAE/Getty Images

The Atlanta Hawks made it five wins in a row following their latest conquest over the shorthanded Miami Heat — who were without Goran Dragić and Justise Winslow — with a 93-90 road victory. The Hawks were led by Dennis Schröder’s team high 18 points while the Miami Heat were led by Tyler Johnson’s game high 19 points and Hassan Whiteside’s 19 points, 25 rebounds performance, the most rebounds in a game by any player in the league so far this season (as well as a season high 10 offensive rebounds).

Dwight Howard’s injury: last night and going forward

The Hawks got the win but the big news from Miami was that Dwight Howard injured his left quad and sat out of the fourth quarter. Speaking after the game:

“It’s super tight right now. Really painful. I wanted to come back out there but they said it wasn’t worth it this early in the season. There is a lot of pain. We are going to get treatment tonight, get treatment in the morning and see how it feels.” — Dwight Howard

Howard sustained the injury when he banged into Hassan Whiteside late in the third quarter. Coach Bud said that the Hawks would be “aggressive” when it came to treating the injury (since the Hawks play again later today at home to Milwaukee) and Dwight is officially listed as “questionable” for tonight’s game.

Dwight had been doing a good job defensively on Whiteside, but his absence meant that the Hawks had their hands full trying to deal with Whiteside in the fourth quarter. They struggled initially but Paul Millsap decided he wanted to guard Hassan as the Hawks’ center in crunch time.

“Usually whenever Paul asks for something, he gets it.” — Coach Mike Budenholzer

Millsap took up that position with just under four minutes remaining in the game. Whiteside had grabbed five rebounds (three of them offensive) in the fourth quarter up to that point, how many did he secure in crunch time after Paul checked in at center? One.

“I feel like I can cause him some problems. I can get to his body, get low, keep him out of the paint. If he catches it, use my hands to disturb him. The few times he got it, I was able to deflect it.” — Paul Millsap

Yes, with those “f***ing amazing hands” Millsap’s hands can indeed cause problems… But it’s worth pointing out that Whiteside (on the second night of a back-to-back) was pretty gassed by this stage of the game and I’m sure it did contribute.

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Every October, 30 NBA franchises (well, 29, discounting the Sixers who have no interest in the playoffs right now) begin a journey, a journey whose destination lies in the form of post season basketball, the playoffs – the pinnacle of professional basketball. The place where champions are crowned and legends are made. Only 16 teams will arrive at this destination come mid April. And out of those 16 teams, only eight of them – four East, and four West – will begin their playoffs journeys at home. The opportunity to play the first two games of a seven game series (at least in the first round of the playoffs) at home. The home fans cheering, feeding, and fueling their team with their energy and excitement, hoping they can use it to gain an advantage. This, as I’m sure you’re well aware, is known as home court advantage – something many teams strive for throughout the regular season in order to give themselves the best chance of success in the playoffs.

The Atlanta Hawks are one of the four teams in the Eastern Conference to secure home court advantage, thanks to the Boston Celtics’ loss against the Charlotte Hornets on Monday night. Who they will face in the first round is unclear, that is to be determined on the final night of the regular season, tonight. They could face anyone of the Miami Heat, Charlotte Hornets, or Boston Celtics.

But the objective of the Hawks’ season is not just to make the playoffs, nor to win just one playoff series and crash out in round two, happy with one playoff series win. I mean, that’s fine if you’re one of the lower seeds like the Detroit Pistons, but this Atlanta Hawks team is beyond that point in their journey. They are a team stacked with many veterans who have tasted the playoffs on many, many occasions (this current Hawks roster combine for 568 playoff games), and one playoff series win/getting KO’d in round two this season simply wouldn’t be good enough – especially for a team who made the Eastern Conference Finals last season.

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The Atlanta Hawks kicked off their stretch run with a 115-111 home loss against the Miami Heat — the extremely shorthanded Miami Heat. Oh, boy… Let’s just get stuck right into it.

 The worst loss of the year

I feel pretty comfortable saying that this was the worst loss that the Hawks have suffered this season. I mentioned that the Heat were shorthanded, maybe that was an understatement. They were without Chris Bosh (please get well soon, Chris Bosh. The NBA needs you on the court), Dwayne Wade, Tyler Johnson, and Hassan Whiteside. Bob Rathbun mentioned on the broadcast that 55% of the Heat’s offense was missing last night — and the Hawks still found a way to lose.

Sure, the Hawks were without Tiago Splitter (who is now done for the season), but everyone else was healthy and rested. You could argue that it’s just rust, since the Hawks haven’t played since Wednesday February 10th, but it was the exact same story for the Heat. In fact, the Heat haven’t played since last Tuesday and their lineup that day was completely different to the one that played the Hawks.

Those who suited up for the Heat played their heart out. Inspired, season high performances from Luol Deng (30 points, 11 rebounds) and Josh McRoberts (19 points, 10 assists) willed the Heat to victory. It also willed the Heat fans in attendance at Philips Arena — the “Let’s go Heat” chants as Goran Dragic was shooting free throws near the end were so loud. It was amazing how loud those Heat fans were, and they had every right to be. They deserved this victory An inexplicable loss for the Hawks.

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Atlanta Hawks, 60-22, 1st in the East ATL

Wow, what an incredible year for the Atlanta Hawks. Anybody that had watched the Hawks last year knew how injured they were, and how much better they were going to be this season, but 60 wins? Not even the most optimistic of Hawks fans believed that this team had that in them. They set all kinds of franchise records, got the entire city of Atlanta behind them in support, and they even brought back the old school pac man logo. Now, everything shifts. It would be easy to say that no matter what happens Atlanta had a successful season, but Hawks fans will say otherwise. This is a franchise that has never once been to the conference finals their entire time in Atlanta, despite years and years of going to the playoffs. Hawks fans are tired of being the constant image of mediocrity. It’s conference finals, or failure, with this team.

Washington Wizards, 46-36, 5th in the East WAS

Yeesh, the Washington Wizards had one heck of a weird season. They started off the year battling the Toronto Raptors for the number one seed in the entire conference, and had what felt like everybody on their bandwagon. Flash forward a few months and they’re in a nosedive towards the middle of the pack while teams like the Hawks, Bulls, and Cavs passed them. Now they enter the playoffs with the same seed as last year, arguably playing worse, and have to defeat those same Toronto Raptors. Bet both teams wish it was December again.
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This week in the southeast, Atlanta pulverizes Brooklyn, because they must REALLY want that lotto pick. Washington is rebounding nicely, because playing the East lets teams do that, Miami has fallen out of the playoff standings all together, Charlotte is somehow still alive, and Orlando is playing spoiler.

Atlanta Hawks, 57-19, 1st in the East, 2-1 this week ATL

Atlanta had a rough road trip, and they struggled a bit in their first couple games back home, but a few games against the East appears to have fixed any problems that were ailing the Hawks. They beat Milwaukee in very convincing fashion, and that’s a team that’s given them fits this year. More impressive than that was the complete beat down the Hawks gave Brooklyn on Saturday. A 32 point victory won’t give the Hawks that lotto pick they so desire, but it does make them look really scary.

Washington Wizards, 43-33, 5th in the East, 3-0 this week WAS

The Wizards had a pretty great week. Yes, two of their three wins came against the Sixers and Knicks, but they also beat a struggling Grizzlies team. That has to count for something right?…..RIGHT!? Well not really, but they have clinched a spot in the playoffs and are looking to be heading for a playoff matchup against Toronto, which happens to be the only upper tier Eastern conference team that’s been struggling as much as they have.
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This week in the southeast, Atlanta is resting, Washington’s coach is walking off, Miami has life, Charlotte is stinking, and the Magic are showing some promise.

Atlanta Hawks, 55-18, 1st in the East, 2-2 this week ATL

Atlanta’s week got off to a really bad start when they got smacked around by the San Antonio Spurs. It was the kind of game that’s starting to cause some concern among fans, and experts, about the Hawks post all-star break struggles. Is it just coasting or is there more to it? The following games didn’t say much as Atlanta beat both Florida teams before resting all their starters in a loss against Charlotte.

Washington Wizards, 41-33, 5th in the East, 1-4 this week WAS

The Wizards went out west this week and everything went to the pits for them. They went on a three game losing streak, pulled out a win against a Hornets team that can’t stay out of their way, and then immediately lost to the Houston Rockets. The “highlight” of their week is when Randy Wittman walked off the court before the game was over when his team was attempting to win the game on a halfcourt heave. Not a great look coach.
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This Week In The Southeast, the Atlanta Hawks are resting and coasting their way to the finish line, the Washington Wizards go streaking, there’s a switch in division standings for the first time in quite awhile, and the Orlando Magic are doing Orlando things. No, not going to Disney World, but losing games…and okay well maybe going to Disney World too, but what does that have to do with basketball?

Atlanta Hawks, 52-14, 1st in the East, 3-1 this week ATL

It’s weird to be talking about how the Hawks haven’t been playing well, but…they haven’t been playing well. The Los Angles Lakers game doesn’t count cause they were resting players, but before that Atlanta received a throttling to a revived Denver Nuggets, and needed a 4th quarter come back to escape Phoenix with a victory. It makes sense that after clinching the playoffs, and at this point of the season, the Hawks would coast a little to the end, but it’s a little worrisome to see them play so horribly at times. If they ever go through a stretch like that in the playoffs it could cost them a game. However, if any of these problems they’re having are real, they can figure them out now with a month before the games really begin to matter again.

Washington Wizards, 38-28, 5th in the East, 3-0 this week WAS

The Wizards are going streaking! They’ve won three in a row with some quality wins against a Hornets team they had lost five times to going in to last season, and an even bigger win over the Memphis Grizzlies. Washington has struggled beating better teams for much of the season, but if they can get back to what made them great early in the year then they could become a threat in the East once more.

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This Week In The Southeast, the Atlanta Hawks have clinched their way to the playoffs and that means they’re ready to coast the rest of the regular season, the Wizards have finally finished their regression to the mean, and the Heat and Hornets race for the playoffs is starting to heat up. The Magic? Well…they’re a team that plays basketball.

Atlanta Hawks, 49-13, 1st in the East, 2-1 this week ATL

Two big things for the Hawks happened this week. To start things off they clinched the playoffs already and it’s March. They also unveiled a statue of Atlanta Hawks legend, Dominique Wilkins, and had one of the greatest throwback nights in recent memory. They took on the Cleveland Cavaliers that night and managed to look pretty good against a team many people believe should have the advantage over Atlanta come playoff time. Of course, Atlanta couldn’t finish the week undefeated when they decided to rest starters to the Philadelphia 76ers and lose. Hey, the 95-96 Bulls lost to the expansion Raptors and who’s not to say that this Hawks team are the 95-96 Bulls?

Washington Wizards, 35-28, 5th in the East, 1-2 this week WAS

It’s hard to believe the Wizards were at one point the number one team in the Eastern conference, and a favorite to win the the Southeast Division. Their slide appears to have found a happy medium and Washington has regressed to a mean that fits around what they were last season. Just good enough to maybe make some noise in the playoffs, but just mediocre enough to not give you any real hope. This week the Wizards beat the playoff hopeful Miami Heat, and then they lost to the Bucks and Bulls.

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Mike Budenholzer rested Al Horford, DeMarre Carroll, Jeff Teague, and Pero Antic for tonight’s matchup with the Miami Heat. Add that to the previously injured Thabo Sefolosha and the Hawks were missing five key players for a division game.

Yeah, like that matters…

The Hawks used solid rotations and team defense to hold the Heat to 39.5% shooting from the field (27% from deep) and cruised on to win 93-91. Wait? Cruised on? But it was only a two point game! True, but the Heat never provided a serious threat to the lead that Atlanta held for the entire game.

With the Hawks missing two key big men, Elton Brand got the start along side Paul Millsap. First possession of the game and Elton Brand already floated up a short corner jumper. As it clanked off the rim, I wondered if resting so many guys was the right call. Coach Bud would shake his head at that sentence because the Hawks used four early Miami turnovers in the first four minutes – as well as poor shooting – to gain an early cushion.

That cushion never went away.

Hassan Whiteside of the Heat proved early that he was a man amongst boys on the glass. After snatching five rebounds (three offensive) in the first three minutes of action, he went on to tally 24 boards for the game. Twenty-four! He fell three short of matching DeAndre Jordan’s NBA season-high of 27, but made up for it with a few offensive put-backs over three or even four Hawks players. Stopping that guy was nearly impossible.

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This Week In The Southeast, the All-Star break has come and gone and each team has reached the midway point of the season. Instead of recapping this week’s action we’ll be recapping how each team has looked for the season, how they project for the playoffs, and what trajectory they’re currently on.

Atlanta Hawks, 43-12, 1st in the East ATL

The Hawks started off the season a little slow, and a lot of us were wondering what their ceiling was, but then things started to get interesting. The offense was never a problem, but the defense started off the season struggling. This was likely due to Al Horford shaking off some rust and getting used to this season’s defensive scheme, but when it all came together oh man did it come together. The Hawks set a franchise record with 19 straight wins and some of the best basketball we’ve ever seen. They topped the NBA’s best time and time again, including a victory over the Golden State Warriors, and showed that they’re one of the top contenders in the NBA. However, they went into the All-Star break not playing like themselves, and recently were uncharacteristically blown out by the Raptors. It’s probably just boredom, or a random rough patch, but after all those wins early in the season it’s weird to see this group struggle at all.

Washington Wizards, 33-22, 5th in the East WAS

The Wizards started off the season as the best team in the East and got a lot of people jumping on to their bandwagon. John Wall was getting early season MVP consideration, Marcin Gortat was an All-Star, and that defense was just suffocating, but there was one problem that’s still showing up to this day. The Wizards started off the season with a very easy schedule, and they still can’t seem to beat a lot of the NBA’s best teams. They limped into the All-Star break falling all the way down to 5th in the East, and it feels like there’s just no chance of them catching the Hawks. Whatever Washington’s problems are they need to get it together, because the rest of the East is starting to put things together and the Wizards are looking outclassed by all of them.

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