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Game #69: Miami Heat (46-22) vs. Atlanta Hawks (39-29)

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With Big Z likely out for both games this weekend, expect to see more of Jamaal Magloire knocking people around.
With Big Z likely out for both games this weekend, expect to see more of Jamaal Magloire knocking people around.

It's been a bumpy ride for the Miami Heat over the past few weeks, but while their record indicates some instability the general mood of the team has actually been very calm.  Ask any members of the Heat and they'll tell you that the only difference has been the actual wins and losses.  The work ethic is always equally hard and while they never get too low after a loss, they don't get high after a win either. 

Tonight they will play their first game away from home in two weeks when they head north to face off with division rival Atlanta.  While Miami has been struggling over the past few weeks, the Hawks have been going through a rough patch for over a month.  They were 33-18 back in back in early February and since then have gone 6-11 while dealing with a very tough schedule.

Of their last 9 losses only two of them have come to teams that are below .500 (Phoenix, Charlotte), with the rest coming to the Knicks, Lakers, Nuggets, Thunder and Bulls.  For a team that many people thought would be contending in the Southeast Division race, Atlanta's rough time has pushed them right out of the running. 

They have fallen 7 games behind the Heat and 3½ behind Orlando, who it looks like will be their opponent in the 1st round of the Playoffs.  The Magic is in 4th place in the East and Atlanta is in 5th, and the Hawks have a nice 3½ game cushion between themselves and the teams surrounding them in the standings (Orlando and New York). 

GAME NOTES

  • This is the first time Mike Bibby will play his former team since being dealt away on February 23rd.
  • Atlanta center Al Horford is the only player in the league shooting 55% from the field and 80% from the foul line. 
  • Miami is just 3-6 over their last 9 games. 
  • Over their last 3 games, the Heat has blocked a total of 24 shots.  Dwyane Wade has 8 of them. 
  • Hawks forward Josh Smith is ranked 13th in the NBA, blocking 1.7 shots per game. 
  • Udonis Haslem (foot) and Dexter Pittman (knee) and Zydrunas Ilgauskas (foot) are all out for the Heat. 
  • The Hawks join the list of several recent Miami opponents with a clean injury report. 

Tipoff from Philips Arena is set for 7:30.  This is the beginning of a back-to-back for Miami, but afterwords they will get a nice 3-day break in-between games.