The Miami Heat had homecourt advantage in their play-in game against the Atlanta Hawks, but it certainly didn’t feel or look like it. With many of the crowd delayed by traffic, the famously late Heat fans were missing early on, and the Heat could have used their support.
Miami held the lead just once in the game after scoring the first basket of the game with 11:24 on the clock in the first quarter off a Jimmy Butler bucket. John Collins hit a three a little over a minute later to make it 3-2 for Atlanta and the visitors never looked back from there.
Led by Trae Young’s 25 points, eight rebounds and seven assists, the Hawks built their lead to 19-11 quickly and then spent the majority of the rest of the game leading by double digits.
Clint Capela had a huge game as well, making up for scoring four points by grabbing 21 rebounds and blocking two shots in a performance that showed how important a rebounding big man still is in the postseason.
The entire Hawks team worked well as a unit, with seven of nine players scoring in double figures, including all four bench players. The win was made even more impressive considering that Atlanta shot 24.4% from beyond the arc and 59.3% from the free throw line.
The Heat, in stark contrast, leaned heavily on their stars but got little from everyone else. Kyle Lowry came off the bench to lead them with 33 points, four rebounds and five assists, while Tyler Herro put up 26 points, six rebounds and two steals. Butler had 21 points, four rebounds, nine assists, two steals and a block. Bam Adebayo was the only other Miami player to score in double figures with 12 points, nine rebounds, four assists, three steals and two blocks. The rest of the six Heat players that took to the court combined for a measly 13 points, which simply wasn’t enough.
The Hawks have now earned the right to face the Boston Celtics, who swept them in the season series 3-0. That’s going to be a tough matchup, one that the Celtics should win relatively easily, but Young and the rest of his team should at least make things interesting.
The Heat will have another chance to make the playoffs when they take on the winner of the matchup between the Chicago Bulls and Toronto Raptors, but they will need to show a greater sense of urgency if they hope to be the ones to take on the Milwaukee Bucks in the first round.
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