Miami entered this game full of hustle with Henry Walker diving out of bounds to save a loose ball. Dwyane Wade was also in the lineup, which was great to see especially with him dealing with knee pain, nevertheless it was obvious from the beginning that he'd only be a shell of himself. Wade contributed little defense, and looked lethargic on both offense and defense.
Miami had no answer for DeMarre Carroll as he got the rim effortlessly, exposing how weak the Heat are without Hassan Whiteside. Henry Walker was also atrocious from the 3-point line forcing jumpers instead of looking for the open man. Walker's shot selection is annoying, because he's a fabulous spot up shooter when open, however he elects to force up unsinkable shots most of the time. The Heat really struggled shooting at the beginning missing three in a row before Dwyane Wade hit a three. Yes Dwyane Wade. Fortunately Goran Dragic was able to bring some fire to the offense, scoring on his first two drives and setting up a few players.
Near the end of the quarter Miami would bring in their reserves where Beasley played good defense, but ultimately appeared out of place as a center. Tyler Johnson also played with some hustle getting comparisons to Dragic from the Heat broadcasters.
Miami began the second quarter with their reserves with Mario Chalmers highlighting the lineup. While Chalmers is less recognized this season, he's still an integral part of this team, especially when he's able to get it going.
In this quarter, Miami just appeared lethargic despite hustle from Michael Beasley, the Heat made terrible passes on offense and seemed to be lost on defense. The Hawks however, shared the ball extremely well actually making me jealous of their offensive flow. Luol Deng continued to play well cleaning up the garbage underneath the rim and grabbing many boards, but the Heat were just unable to get it going especially with Wade missing his shots.
Wade elected to post-up often instead of sharing the ball, and while this generally works it wasn't the case this evening. Johnson continued to play well driving to the rim with reckless abandon in order to draw fouls, but even his hustle wasn't able to help Miami gain momentum especially after the Paul Millsap buzzer beater headed into the locker room.
Despite a break and likely a spirited lecture from Coach Erik Spoelstra the Heat continued to play poorly coming into the third. Atlanta was able to read Miami's defense like a book, scoring almost at will, or so it seemed. It almost seemed as if Miami was waving the white flag early as Wade continued to shoot 3-point shots (fortunately Wade was able to hit quite a few which is not his typical MO). The story of this quarter would once again be turnovers off of some terrible passes (Miami had seven turnovers in the period).
Miami seemed genuinely defeated by the Hawks scoring run as Dennis Schroeder and co outclassed the entire Miami defense. Luol Deng however, was a bright spot for Miami posting a double-double early in the quarter and doing his best to get his teammates going. James Ennis would also see some burn near the end of the quarter scoring back-to-back buckets headed into the fourth.
Miami continued to be dominated in the fourth, though they did try to bring some excitement into the game with a Tyler Johnson missed dunk. Mario Chalmers found himself in shooting rhythm as the Heat rested their starters (Dwyane Wade never returned) converting on some good shots. Still the Heat defense faltered both in the key, and from beyond the arc. Beasley seemed to be everywhere, but his playing time was highlighted more by his many mistakes (dribbling off his foot, bad passing) than any of the positives he brought to the floor. With two minutes in the game, Miami declared it garbage time sending Zoran Dragic in the game along with James Ennis allowing the Hawks to claim the number one seed in the Eastern conference.
The Atlanta organ player: Wow, whoever runs their organ is extremely talented. It's definitely preferable to the recycled Pitbull melodies that are generally heard at games.
Luol Deng: Though Miami struggled Deng was phenomenal, scoring 17 points and grabbing 10 rebounds.
Goran Dragic: Though he started hot, scoring in bunches, Dragic would score only once more shooting just 3-11 from the field. Nothing seemed to fall for him, hopefully this was just a bad night and not a response to his lingering back issues.
Turnovers: The Heat had 18 turnovers in this game, which when compared to Atlanta's 17 doesn't seem so bad, however they often led to an Atlanta score, spoiling any chance to get back into this game.
Shooting: Miami's shot selection was awful. Henry Walker went just 4-11 from the field, with Wade not shooting much better going just 5-13. Miami as a team shot just 39% from the field when compared to Atlanta's 51%.
Points in the paint: Without Whiteside, Atlanta was able to score 48 points in the paint. That's nearly half their total points.