Miami Heat forced to reinvent themselves once again vs Hawks

Jan 31, 2016; Miami, FL, USA; Miami Heat forward Justise Winslow (20) is pressured by Atlanta Hawks guard Tim Hardaway Jr. (10) during the first half at American Airlines Arena. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 31, 2016; Miami, FL, USA; Miami Heat forward Justise Winslow (20) is pressured by Atlanta Hawks guard Tim Hardaway Jr. (10) during the first half at American Airlines Arena. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports /
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Mostly unchanged after the trade deadline, the Miami Heat and Atlanta Hawks will stick it out with their core.

Heat (29-24) vs Hawks (31-24)
Where: Atlanta
When: Friday, 8 pm ET
Watch: FS-SUN

A lot of buzz before the trade deadline surrounded both the Miami Heat and the Atlanta Hawks, but neither team made any major roster changes.

On Friday, both teams kick off a second half of the season in which they will look to make a last push for a top playoff seed in the Eastern Conference.

For the Heat, however, they could have as few as nine active players.

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Chris Bosh’s blood clot issues have resurfaced, and no one is certain how serious it is or how long he will be out. He won’t play against the Hawks. Tyler Johnson remains injured, Hassan Whiteside must serve his one-game suspension for elbowing Boban Marjanovic in the last game before the All Star break, and Dwyane Wade is listed as a game-time decision with a knee injury.

For Atlanta, the injuries are far less serious. Backup center Tiago Splitter is out, though, which starts to balance the playing field as far as front court depth goes.

The Heat, without Bosh, will be forced once again to reinvent themselves on the fly. Josh McRoberts should see more playing time at the 4, and needs to start shooting the darn ball if he’s going to be any percentage of the floor spacer Bosh was.

We can also expect more “small” forward combinations from the Heat, with Luol Deng, Justise Winslow and Gerald Green splitting time at the 3 and 4 spots.

For Winslow specifically, the time has come for the 19-year-old rookie to take another step in his progression. Miami, more than ever, will be relying on him to not only be the best perimeter defender on the team (the loss of Bosh hurts defensively as much as, if not more than, offensively) but also a threatening shooter and scorer.

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But these are all long-term issues that the Heat will have to figure out over the balance of the season. A win against Atlanta would certainly help start things in a good way, and this figures to be one of those games when Erik Spoelstra experiments with a lot of different lineups hoping to catch lightning in a bottle.

Follow Wes Goldberg on Twitter @wcgoldberg