How can the Miami Heat beat the Atlanta Hawks Friday night at Kesaya Center? Here are three keys for the Heat to improve to 17-12.
1. Create turnovers
The last time these teams met (Nov. 11), the Heat won by forcing 21 turnovers from the Hawks. Atlanta’s starting backcourt of Trae Young (five) and Dejounte Murray (three) contributed eight of those.
The Heat have historically been aggressive in sending two to the ball when Young plays out of the pick-and-roll, but they have also mixed up their looks. Young is averaging 11.1 assists but can get sloppy with 4.2 turnovers per game. If Miami can get out and run off those turnovers, then it will have a better chance of scoring with Atlanta’s fourth-rated offense and winning the game.
2. Bam Adebayo dominates
Adebayo had 26 points, 17 rebounds, four assists, two steals and two blocks in their early-season meeting. In two games back from a hip injury that sidelined him for seven, Adebayo has been good but not that dominant.
If he can win his matchup against Clint Capela and Onyeka Okongwu and be a force inside, it will go a long way in mitigating the absence of Jimmy Butler, who will miss his second straight game with a calf strain. (Butler was not available for the first Hawks game, either, so Adebayo has already stepped up once against this opponent in a similar spot.)
3. Match Atlanta’s tempo or slow the game down
The Hawks play at the league’s fifth-fastest pace, averaging 102.4 possessions per 48 minutes, while the Heat play at the league’s fifth-slowest pace (98.02). The Heat managed to win the first matchup despite it being played to Atlanta’s tempo, but the Heat are 3-4 in games this season played at a pace of 100 or more.
Miami is 6-1 when the game is slowed to 95 possessions or less. It’s unlikely that the Heat will be able to slow the Hawks down to that degree, but they could have a hard time winning a track-meet-type game.
The Heat do lead the league in 3-point shooting percentage (39.4) but the Hawks aren’t far behind (38.0).