Miami Heat at Atlanta Hawks Preview
The Atlanta Hawks (2-2) will face off against the Miami Heat (3-1) on Thursday at the State Farm Arena in Atlanta, GA. The game will be the second meeting between the two squads in the same week. The first game came on Tuesday where the Heat won 112-97 and led by as many as 20. The Hawks lost more than the game as Trae Young suffered a scary ankle injury after coming down on Justice Winslow’s foot. He had to be carried off the court and will miss the rematch. The worse news is the Hawks’ “back up” point guard is Evan Turner, who is listed as “questionable” due to an Achilles injury. If Turner can’t go the Hawks are going to have serious problems running their offensive sets. The hope for the Hawks is that their defense can muddy up the game and stifle the Heat’s torrid offense.
The Miami Heat come into this matchup as the second seed in the Eastern Conference. Tuesday’s contest versus the Hawks was Jimmy Butler’s first of the season. He posted a line of 21 points, five rebounds and three steals, including 12 of those 21 points in the first quarter. The Heat looked good without Butler, now with him, they should look even better.
Time: 7 PM ET
Arena: State Farm Arena, Atlanta, GA
Heat: James Johnson (Q), Derrick Jones (Q), Dion Waiters (O)
Hawks: Allen Crabbe (O), Chandler Parsons (Q), Evan Turner (Q), Trae Young (O)
Miami Heat Starting Lineup
The Heat got their guy. Jimmy Butler signed with the Heat over the summer after Pat Riley tried his hardest to pry him away from the Timberwolves last season. Butler turned down more years and money to sign with the Heat, so some were surprised. I was not. Butler fits this Heat franchise better than he’s fit any team he’s ever played for. He made his presence felt early in Tuesday’s game against the Hawks; he had an early steal against Trae Young, and he attacked relentlessly, getting to the free-throw line 15 times.
“To win at home, in front of these fans, is special,” Butler said after the game. The city of Miami has embraced Butler, and his supporting cast will complement him very well.
The Heat are playing like a team that’s tired of hearing about how great the Bucks and Sixers are going to be. While the rest of the basketball universe saw it as a foregone conclusion that it was a two-team race in the East, Eric Spoelsatra’s club has a different plan.
The offensive numbers have been impressive. The defensive numbers? Just as impressive. The Heat have two players in their rotation–a rookie and a second-year guard who went undrafted–that have given opposing teams more than they can handle. Tyler Herro, the rookie has looked the part of a Rookie of the Year candidate. The 6-5 guard out of Kentucky scored 19 points in the last 10 minutes of the second quarter of Tuesday’s game. He’s averaging 16 points per game on 37 percent shooting from the 3-point line (he has the confidence of a guy who shoots 50 percent from out there). Nunn has been the more surprising of the two. In Butler’s absence, he’s led the team in scoring averaging 21 per game.
Back to the team numbers: the Heat are third in pace, seventh in points per game and are shooting 39.5 percent on 3s on 32.3 attempts. Along with the offensive efficiency they are fifth in free-throw attempts at 34 per game. The defensive numbers jump out as well, opponents are shooting 27 percent from behind the arc against them, which is good for second in the league and they’re blocking 6.5 shots per game. The blend of offensive efficiency and defensive tenacity will be the recipe for Florida’s gritty team to stay in the top three.
Atlanta Hawks Starting Lineup
Talk about bad luck. The Hawks have looked solid this season, then they get dealt an injury to their franchise point guard. Luckily Young’s MRI came back negative for anything serious, but he will still be sidelined for at least a couple weeks. Young being out is only the start of the Hawks problems. The Heat led by as many as 20 in Tuesday’s game and outrebounded the Hawks 49-33. The Hawks big men need to step up, or we are going to see more of the same on Thursday.
The Hawks offense outside of Young and John Collins has been abysmal. They are shooting 31 percent on 3s and their offense is only scoring the 22nd-most points in the NBA. Their defense has kept them in games (ninth in opponent points per game and holding teams to 28 percent on 3s). They’re going to need their frontcourt to have a big game on the glass–the Hawks currently rank 25th in rebounds per game.
Collins is going to have to do more heavy lifting. His numbers have been solid–18 points per game, 9.3 rebounds and 1.8 blocks, but he’ll need more to make up for Young’s absence. Speaking of needing more, the rookies, Cam Reddish, in particular, need to give the Hawks more. Reddish’s shooting has been lousy. The 10th pick out of Duke is shooting 21 percent from the field (that’s not a typo) and has not connected on a single one of his 3-point attempts. If he’s going to continue to see near 25 minutes per game he has to start knocking down shots.
Key Player Matchups
De’Andre Hunter vs. Jimmy Butler
De’Andre Hunter has the size go head-to-head with Butler, but he doesn’t have the experience. Rookies, no matter their physical tools, or desire to play good defense just flat out struggle on that end of the court. Not to mention Butler is a four-time all-star and all-defensive team selection. Hunter is going to have his hands full.
Alex Len vs. Bam Adebayo
Can Alex Len break out of his early-season rut? The Hawks sure hope so, because Bam Adebayo is wreaking havoc on the league. Bam is displaying DPOTY potential. His averages of 16-11-5 with over a steal and almost two blocks per game should not be taken lightly. Adebayo plays with fervent energy that he uses when he’s banging in the paint or when he’s on the perimeter on a switch or guarding a player in transition.
John Collins vs. Myers Leonard
A matchup of super athletes. Both power forwards can jump out of the gym, and have decent strokes from the 3-point line. Collins will have added attention on him with Young out and no natural point guard to handle the offense.
Jimmy Butler takes the crown as the best fantasy pickup for this matchup. Butler is going to be playing in only his second game of the season, but the time missed was not due to injury so there is no minute restriction for the Heat’s swingman. He’s available for $9.2k on FanDuel with his projected point total set at 43.2. Bam Adebayo provides a lot of value, because of his ability to rack up stats in every major category. He’s available for $8.3k on FanDuel and is projected to score 40 fantasy points.
For the Hawks, a value pickup is DeAndre’ Bembry. The guard will take over the point guard role for the Hawks and he’s available for $4.7k on FanDuel with projected point totals of 26.38. The more expensive Hawks player, John Collins is available for $8.7k and is projected to score 39.45 points.
Bet on Matchup
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