Miami Heat Index: Wounded Heat No Match For Hawks


86. 110. 99. 125. Final

One positive coming out of this road trip for the Miami Heat: it’s over.

The Heat entered Atlanta battered and broken, and the Hawks feasted off the corpse of their prey, cruising to an easy victory over Miami. The win helped the Hawks clinch home-court throughout the Eastern Conference playoffs, while the Heat fall to 33-39, with a one game lead over the Celtics for the seventh spot in the East, and a game and a half lead over the Nets for the final playoff spot.

Miami was without Hassan Whiteside (lacerated hand) and Chris Andersen (calf) against a much bigger Atlanta squad, with Coach Erik Spoelstra trying to find the nine guys that could actually walk onto the court.

The Hawks were led by DeMarre Carroll’s 24 points, as he shot 8 for 12 from the field, including 3 of 5 from downtown. Paul Milsap had 21 points and 9 rebounds, while fellow All-Star Al Horford chipped in 15 points. And with Jeff Teague sitting out Friday’s game, backup Dennis Schroder contributed 12 points and 11 assists.

Things that pleased me: Luol Deng had a double-double, as he led the Heat with 17 points and 10 rebounds. He hasn’t been overly consistent as of late, but Deng shows that he can still produce at a high level when his number gets called.

After missing Wednesday’s game in Boston, Dwyane Wade had a decent outing, scoring 21 points. While his shooting was rusty (5 for 13), Wade did hit 3 of 5 from three.

Things that annoyed me: With no Whiteside and Birdman, the Heat had nothing resembling an interior presence, as the Hawks destroyed Miami in the paint 48-28. It didn’t really take Red Auerbach to come up with this strategy, as Atlanta realized they had a decided advantage with Milsap and Horford and exploited it.

The problem is the Heat have some weird idea that they’re a three-point shooting team. It’s like they felt they weren’t going to have any success down low, so they just fired away and prayed for the best. Maybe March Madness inspired them to just shoot without a plan. Miami shot 31.4 % from beyond the arc. Which leads me to…

Things that perplexed me: Bless Henry Walker, but the man has not met a shot he won’t take. He’s like Sandra Bullock in “Speed”, going 50 miles per hour without concern for anything around him because if he slows down, he just might explode. Walker had 12 points, on 4 for 12 shooting, and 4 for 11 from downtown. Eleven threes! He’s a 33% shooter from deep, yet he still shot it eleven times! Give him credit, he plays really hard (9 rebounds, 4 steals), but he has nothing resembling a mid-ranger or post game. It’s all or nothing with Walker. That’s not exactly a good thing.

On a scale of 1 to 10, how badly did I want to throw a lamp because of Mario Chalmers? 2. Chalmers had a nice effort on Friday, scoring 13 points (4 for 8 from the field), with 5 assists, 2 steals, and a block; he’s a junior Whiteside!

What we learned: This was the end of a four-game road trip, with a depleted roster that missing another starter and key rotation player, and the Heat played exactly like it. Sure, the Hawks are the best team in the East, but the sooner this game was over, the sooner the Heat could get back to Miami. Even Goran Dragic (6 points, 3 assists) didn’t seem to be his usual self.

But with 10 games left, the Heat are hanging on by a thread, still trying to get healthy and hold on to a playoff spot that looked so much easier at the start of the fourth quarter of Tuesday’s game in Milwaukee. Now all bets are off. Sunday’s game against the Pistons has a “must-win” vibe to it, as the Heat’s schedule doesn’t do them any favors in the next week.