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Heat @ Hawks GAMEDAY

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It’s the best kind of let down.  I was fully expecting that the final two games of the regular season would be HUGE for the Heat.  Considering that pretty much all season Miami has been nipping at the heels of the Hawks and trying to keep ahead of Detroit.  Now these last couple games are pretty ‘ho-hum’ to Heat followers, with D-Wade more then likely re-charging his batteries and the high likelihood that Erik Spoelstra will limit the minutes of his regulars. 

Does that mean you can expect more minutes for guys like Joel Anthony, Chris Quinn and Dorell Wright?  Probably.  But considering how deep the Heat go with their bench, the minutes will likely be spread out more evenly to make sure the ‘regs’ stay sharp.  While I’d love to see more of Michael Beasley in the midst of his current surge of basketball skill, the smart move is to make sure your team is at full strength going into the playoffs.

The Hawks are a team also nursing some sore players, the main one being Marvin Williams who has been suffering from some undisclosed back issues.  This could be key for Miami, as a hurt Williams may be a little tentative when going into the painted area and more prone to taking jumpers.

One thing I’ll be keeping an eye on tonight is Mario Chalmers vs. Mike Bibby, assuming of course that both players are on the court together.  They are both starters, so in the least they should see 20+ minutes.  Bibby has slowed the past few years, and this could be a big advantage for Mario Chalmers.  Mario has struggled against some of the ‘better’ point guards in the NBA, but Bibby is vulnerable to Chalmers’ speed.  I’ll have more on the specific matchups later this week, but for now just watch with a close eye our opponent tomorrow. 

THIGNS TO CONSIDER

Josh Smith taking jumpers is a good thing.  Josh Smith creating off the dribble and penetrating the paint is a bad thing. 

These last two games are a great opportunity for Daequan Cook and James Jones to get their shots going.  Between the two, we should be seeing at least 40% from three-point range for them to be productive. 

One thing it would be nice to see is Jamario Moon back on the floor.  I haven’t heard anything but that he is questionable for the game (as is Daequan Cook), but he could use a game or two to get back into the swing of things.  While most don’t seem to care or even acknowledge Moon’s injury or absence from the lineup, he will be a very useful tool for the Heat come playoff time.  Ask yourself this question:  Jamario Moon or Yakhouba Diawara?

Jermaine O’Neal will sit out tonight with his strained left calf, but he’ll be fine for the playoffs. 

In case you aren’t keeping track, that’s either three or four starters (Wade, Haslem, O’Neal and Jamario Moon) sitting out tonight’s game against our 1st round playoff opponent.  Moon and Wade aren’t ‘definitely’ sitting out, but it’s very likely.   All four will be ready to roll this weekend for Game 1, but its funny that none could be there for the Hawks to get a final look at.

Udonis Haslem is scheduled to have his stitches removed from his shooting thumb tomorrow, and he’ll likely resume shooting the next day.

IN THE STANDINGS

5th Miami GR-2 42-38 --
6th Chicago 1 41-40 -1.5
7th Philadelphia 2 40-40 -2.0
8th Detroit 1 39-42 -3.5


Chicago outscored Detroit by 9 in the 4th quarter, sending the Palace crowd home knowing that their beloved Pistons will likely be facing Cleveland in the first round.  Chicago now has a 2 game lead on Detroit and is up by a half game on Philly. 
Detroit’s only chance to not finish 8th is to beat Miami on Wednesday and for the Sixers to drop their final two games.  Tomorrow’s Game:
Boston @ Philadelphia- A big home win over Boston could be just what Philly needs heading into the playoffs.  They could really use it, but they won’t likely get it.  This could very well be a 1st round preview.