Game #63: Atlanta Hawks (40-21) vs. Miami Heat (31-31)

Use this post as your Open Game Thread

Coming into Saturday nights game against Atlanta, the Heat have an opportunity to do something they haven't been able to do all year in a season full of streaks.  After back-to-back home wins for the first time since mid-December, Miami can now make it 3-straight at home for the first time since last March when they reeled off 6 in a row at the AAA. 

While Thursday nights win over the Lakers was a big boost for the Heat and their fans alike, it also showed you why Miami is such a dangerous playoff opponent.  The Heat have shown time and time again that they are more then capable of competing with and taking down the top teams in the NBA.  Yeah, it really sucks when they lose games to the teams that (when it comes to win-loss record) are their ‘peers' and even worse.  Miami has that tendency of playing down, and up, to their opponents and have been doing so this entire season. 

Don't get me wrong; I'm not over-looking into the win over the Lakers.  Obviously the Heat aren't going to get a seven 3-pointer night from Quentin Richardson very often.  But for every game like that for Q, there is a big night for Dorell, or a 20-10 night from Udonis, or any good game by Beasley, or a big shooting night from Daequan...you see where I'm gettin' with this? 

With D-Wade healthy and playing inspired, leadership basketball, and with Jermaine O'Neal emerging as a consistent scoring threat on most nights, the Heat have several assets that can help compliment their stars offensive game.  Now if just one or two of those guys can step up and play a decent game, and it could be a different guy each night for all I care, the Heat will have a shot at wining every game regardless of who they play. 

Oh, and just for fun...imagine what would happen if each guy on our roster began to play at their best, all at the same time.  How scared would teams be to play Miami in the playoffs?  Yeah I know that I'm dreaming, but why not?  It's happened before...and considering that the talent is there, why not hope for that special something that brings it all together just in time for the magical post-season run?

Back to the Hawks for a minute, who the Heat get to play on 2nd night of a back-to-back just like they did the last time these teams met.   Atlanta is fresh off a shootout type of win over visiting Golden State, led by Josh Smith's season-high 29 points and Al Horford's 27-15 night.   The Hawks will also have something they did not have the last time they played Miami; the services of a Jamal Crawford.  Hopefully the Heat can get someone off of their bench to step up the way that Daequan did when the Miami won up in Atlanta last month. 

GAME NOTES

  • Both teams are coming in with a player on each squad having hit seven 3-pointers in their previous game.  Quentin Richardson hit 7-of-11 from beyond against the Lakers, and Mike Bibby sunk 7 of the 9 triples he took against Golden State. 
  • Atlanta comes in winners of 4-straight games and 6 of their last 7. 
  • In the Heat's last two wins, Dwyane Wade has dished out 26 assists.
  •  In the East playoff race last night, Toronto, Milwaukee and Charlotte all won last night.  The Heat are now 2 games back of 5th seed Toronto, 1½ behind 6th place Milwaukee, ½ game back of 7th place Chicago and hold a 1 game lead over 9th place Charlotte. 

Tipoff from the AAA will be at 7:30.  One thing about Heat fans, you can expect that they'll show the visiting Hawks a little more class then the fans of Phillips Arena act towards D-Wade and his teammates.  While that's obviously the nicer way to handle things, it also could be why the Hawks seem to hold a strong home-court advantage.  The 6th man has proven to pump up their team on several occasions, and a team like the Hawks likely feed off all that negative energy...

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