Following an overtime victory against the Charlotte Bobcats, the Miami Heat (29-11) travel to Atlanta to face the Hawks (20-19) to conclude a six game road trip. After dropping the first three games of the road trip, the Heat have rebounded with two straight victories, and head to Atlanta looking to finish the road trip at .500.
Atlanta enters the game losers of two straight, including a 127-110 defeat at the hands of the Brooklyn Nets in London last Thursday.
The last time these two teams met was December 23rd at the Heat's house, which ended in a 121-119 overtime victory in favor of Miami. LeBron James was big for the Heat in that one, scoring 38 points on 16-28 shooting to go along with 8 rebounds and 6 assists. Even more impressive, James went the entire game without committing a single turnover. On the Atlanta side, Paul Millsap almost single-handedly kept Atlanta in the game, scoring 25 points, including making 7 of his 10 three point attempts.
Unfortunately for Atlanta, they are now without Al Horford the remainder of the season, who's averaging 16.5 points and 9 rebounds in two games against the Heat this season.
Without Horford, the Hawks offense revolves around the offensive stylings of Jeff Teague and Paul Millsap. In the last matchup, the Hawks basically abused the Heat when Michael Beasley was on Millsap, pick-and-popping the Heat to death. The Hawks ran their offense through whomever Beasley was covering when he was in the game (it was primarily Millsap), and had a lot of success doing so. The Heat will need to pick their spots in this one and hide Beasley on some inferior offensive players to avoid this happening again.
The most important question is what sort of intensity the Heat will bring on the defensive end, as that will most likely decide the game. Even against Charlotte on Saturday night, the effort on the defensive end wasn't up to par, and a more advanced offensive team like the Hawks will be able to take advantage when the Heat slack off. The Bobcats don't have a shooter like Kyle Korver, so the Heat will need to keep their rotations on point when the Hawks run him off screens all night.
This marks the third of four meetings between these two teams on the season. The Heat took the first two, both of which were played in Miami. The Hawks currently sit in 2nd in the Southeastern Division, 8.5 games behind the Heat for first.
The game can be seen on Sun Sports at 5:30 PM Eastern time.
For more on the Hawks, check out Peachtree Hoops.