The Heat were sloppy to start the game, turning the ball over multiple times and taking questionable shots. Thankfully the Heat managed to regain their composure on offense thanks to some great plays by Dragic, Babbitt and Waiters and take the lead on an 11-0 run.
The Heat were firing on all cylinders offensively and running at an incredible pace, at times it just seemed as if Atlanta couldn’t keep up. There aren’t enough good things I can say about Dion Waiters, he’s become a scoring machine as of late and really doesn’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon. While Atlanta would find a rhythm somewhat and keep it fairly close, the quarter largely belonged to the Heat who looked very good.
Miami continued their assault in the second, thanks to some solid play by the reserves to extend the lead. The Hawks really seemed absent on defense as Miami invaded the key effortlessly and as a result went on a 10-3 scoring run. James Johnson once again saw minutes at point center and orchestrated the offense quite well, while also contributing with his own baskets. The Heat have such great chemistry that offensive pieces have become interchangeable, everyone shares the ball and thus everybody contributes.
As the half came to a close, the Heat suffered some turnover woes allowing for Atlanta to go on 7-0 run. Nevertheless, Miami would find their offensive groove in the final minute and head into the break with a comfortable lead of 15.
The Heat, led by Goran Dragic carried their strong play over from the first half to start the third quarter. The Heat continued to run circles around the Atlanta defense, misdirecting them more than a magician live in Vegas.
A lot of Miami’s scoring came in transition, thanks to some great defensive play and nearly clairvoyant pass lane defense. Hassan Whiteside was also a beast inside acting like a magnet as he grabbed many offensive boards that translated in second chance points. The Heat were unstoppable in the third, every shot they took seemed to fall. They would head into the fourth quarter up 23.
The Hawks opened the fourth quarter with a 7-0 run, but Miami stopped the bleeding almost immediately. The Heat continued to be relentless on the offensive end, hitting some ridiculous shots and just playing on a different level. One interesting thing I noticed in this game is how well the Heat defense blocked shots, it wasn’t just Whiteside, but both Waiters and Johnson rejecting Atlanta’s attempts.
With 6 minutes left in the quarter Hassan Whiteside was hurt on a vicious foul by Prince. He landed hard on his back, but would be okay. A flagrant foul 2 would be issued on Prince and he would be ejected, but Dion Waiters and James Johnson would also get technical fouls, with Johnson being ejected as well. Following the drama, Hassan would immediately get back to work as would the rest of the Heat. The Heat did not slow down whatsoever going on yet another scoring run and abusing the Hawks on route to their ninth straight win.
A month ago I was sure Miami was a lottery team. This isn’t the same team I saw then, these guys are tenacious and hungry. If they are able to continue this level of play down the stretch, I have no doubt that they’ll find themselves in the playoffs.