The Heat were slow to start, blowing multiple possessions on missed shots and turnovers. Luckily, Goran Dragic and Josh Richardson would get them going. Miami would take the lead at 8 minute mark of the first quarter and continue to build on that. Despite scoring some crafty buckets, Dion Waiters got into foul trouble early and was replaced by Tyler Johnson. The Hawks and Heat would go back and forth for awhile, but eventually the Hawks would pull back within 3 despite being held to 36% shooting from the field.
It was Josh Richardson who was the highlight of the first quarter as he put up 10 points and 2 steals.
The Heat were on fire from behind the arc to start the second quarter with Waiters and Ellington delivering treys back to back. Ellington would continue his hot shooting, scoring 6 threes and looked unstoppable.
Later, Richardson and Dragic would join the party from beyond the arc. Despite some solid drives the Hawks never were able find a rhythm offensively, which was great for Miami.
The Heat offense appeared to firing on all cylinders, and it was amazing to watch in action. Because of Miami’s spectacular shooting, they would rebuild their lead and finish the half up 18.
The Hawks’ adjustments were better in the second half, allowing them to exploit Whiteside’s absence in the paint. The Heat were also less sharp as they turned over the ball multiple times. The Heat started to pull things together around the 8 minute mark, with some great defensive plays. Dion would reignite Miami’s scoring, and that would lead to James Johnson scoring in bunches on two great buckets inside.
Where Miami struggled in the third was with ball control. They play incredibly hard, but tonight it led to them being a little bit out of control which resulted in multiple turnovers and Hawks’ buckets. The Hawks would battle back going on a 9-0 run as the Heat entered a scoring drought. Once again, the Heat would find themselves giving up a big lead in the third. It’s definitely something that needs to be addressed going forward. The Heat would end the quarter up only 4.
The Hawks would come into the fourth swinging and tie the game. Thankfully, the Heat weren’t done and would chip away to break open a 7-0 run thanks to big plays by Olynyk and Justise Winslow. Unfortunately, Miami would catch a few tough breaks defensively allowing the Hawks would hang around. It was Josh Richardson who would deliver on a huge bucket off a steal by Winslow and the Heat would follow it up with another Richardson bucket and some huge defensive plays.
Miami finished up with some big buckets by Goran, Winslow and James Johnson. But not without some push back from Prince and the Hawks. Luckily, the Heat would come up with some key defensive stops and win 104-93.
3 Things before I go:
- What was commonly referred to by Heat faithful as the “turd quarter” a couple of seasons ago seems to be rearing it’s ugly head again. The Heat can’t afford to collapse and give up big leads like this. Better teams won’t allow them to recover.
- Winslow really struggled with his jumper, but was excellent on defense and did a solid job driving, grabbing boards and setting up teammates. It’s obvious that Winslow’s contributions won’t always be visible in the box score.
- Miami’s role players know when they need to step up. Where the Heat used to need Dwyane Wade to pull them out of holes with his scoring, Miami’s role players have now taken that load. Tonight it was Kelly Olynyk and Josh Richardson making essential buckets to keep the Heat ahead. It’s amazing to watch, this team works very hard.