Preview of the Miami Heat’s matchup against the Atlanta Hawks.
Hawks (27-21) @ Heat (26-21)
Where: American Airlines Arena, Miami, Florida
When: Wednesday, January 31, 6:00 PM EST
Watch: FS-SUN, NBA League Pass
After a 2-5 start to their road trip, the Miami Heat finally rallied together and won three consecutive games to close out their road trip, including a strong win against the Bucks on Friday. After witnessing some devastating injuries the past couple of weeks, the Heat were as close to healthy as they have been all season on Friday.
Goran Dragic and Josh McRoberts are expected to play for a second straight game and the team hopes to have Tyler Johnson back tonight. That would leave Chris Anderson as the lone Heat player still out with an injury.
The Heat come into this matchup as the number 6 team in the Eastern Conference, trailing the four seeded Atlanta Hawks by just a game. The Heat will have this one matchup at home, before hitting the road for another road trip, this one being three games.
The season series is tied at 1 a piece for the teams coming into tonight’s game.
The Hawks come into this matchup following back-to-back losses against the Washington Wizards and the Indiana Pacers. The Hawks have actually lost four of their last five games, so the Heat are catching them at the right time.
If the Hawks struggles continue into the next month, things could get interesting, as rumors have begun to swirl in other teams being interested in both Jeff Teague and Al Horford, with Horford set to be an unrestricted free agent after the season.
If the Hawks feel like Horford is a goner after free agency, I wonder if the Heat and Hawks can matchup as trade partners in a deal involving Horford and Hassan Whiteside.
Matchup to Watch: Jeff Teague vs Goran Dragic
Dragic will be making his second straight start after missing three weeks of action with his calf injury. His second test won’t be an easy one on Sunday, as he’ll have to guard one of the up-and-coming point guards in the league as of now. Dragic scored 12 points and racked up 8 assists in 32 minutes of play against the Bucks Friday.
Dragic seemed to be a lot more aggressive on Friday, something the Heat need to see more of to see their offense grow and play better.
Teague himself is coming off a 20-point performance against the Pacers, on 7-12 shooting. Teague’s overall numbers are down from a year ago, but he is still a dangerous player that can cause the Heat chaos with his offense and defense.
In his first matchup against the Heat, Teague dropped 26 points, 9 assists, and 6 rebounds in a 98-92 win for the Hawks. In the second matchup, the Heat limited him to 7 points, 4 assists, and 4 turnovers in a Heat 100-88 victory.
X-Factor: Dwyane Wade
After missing the game last Wednesday against the Washington Wizards, Dwyane Wade has caught fire in his past four games. This stretch can easily be seen as the best by Wade this season, as he is averaging 25.3 points, 6.0 assists, and 4.0 rebounds per game on 51 percent shooting.
While Wade did score 24 points and mesh well with Goran Dragic last time out against the Milwaukee Bucks, it remains to be seen if Wade and Dragic have figured out a way to coexist on the court together. That could be the key to success for the Heat for the rest of the season.
Miami Heat offensive efficiency: 23rd, 101.6 points per 100 possessions
Miami Heat defensive efficiency: 5th, 100.1 points per 100 possessions
Atlanta Hawks offensive efficiency: 12th, 102.8 points allowed per 100 possessions
Atlanta Hawks defensive efficiency: 7th, 100.3 points allowed per 100 possessions