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Winning 8 games out their last 10 games could pose a problem for the Heat against the Hawks

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Can Miami keep its momentum versus a team that already beat them twice this season?

NBA: Washington Wizards at Miami Heat Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

The Miami Heat won of eight out of their last ten games, but can the team keep their hot hand alive because the lowly Atlanta Hawks dropped a combined 238 points on the Heat in their previous two meetings this season.

Miami scored 118 points in Atlanta, then 113 points at home in Miami, and still lost both games.

Josh Richardson had a career evening in the first contest with 32 points, but it wasn’t enough for Miami to pull out a win due to some sloppy execution in the last minutes.

On Atlanta’s side of the coin Trae Young made some Miami players look foolish as they were constantly a step behind Hawks’ players and allowed Young to rack up 24 points, 15 assists and a remarkable 5 rebounds for a 6’2”, 20-year-old player in his first NBA season.

Later Young repeated his heroics again, this time in Miami, with 18 points and 10 assists when the Heat became losers in 8 of their 10 games and experienced another set of ill-conceived shots as the clock expired.

Hassan Whiteside had a monster game against the Washington Wizards, but the Hawks gave him trouble as he was a team-worst - 21 in the +/- column in those two games.

Heat versus Hawks 2018-19

PLAYER MIN PTS TOV PF +/-
PLAYER MIN PTS TOV PF +/-
Josh Richardson 74 54 6 7 9
Kelly Olynyk 35 8 2 4 4
Bam Adebayo 44 14 5 9 3
Tyler Johnson 24 17 2 3 3
James Johnson 19 8 0 1 1
Wayne Ellington 40 20 1 3 1
Rodney McGruder 70 26 2 4 -5
Justise Winslow 62 26 11 8 -6
Dwyane Wade 53 37 5 2 -9
Derrick Jones Jr. 18 2 1 1 -15
Hassan Whiteside 41 19 2 3 -21

Derrick Jones Jr. also struggled, along with Justise Winslow who had 11 turnovers in their two games.

That loss dropped the Heat to 7-13 at the time, after which the team won 12 out of their next 17 games and seek to settle the score once back in Atlanta.

While the 19-18 Heat may be facing the 11-27 Hawks, a look at the first two meetings shows league domination needs a longer track record than just an impressive ten game spurt.

However the absence of Kent Bazemore and Taurean Prince, along with bruiser Omari Spellman, puts this game in another light.

Hawks Heat Net Rating

PLAYER ORTG DRTG NRTG USG%
PLAYER ORTG DRTG NRTG USG%
Alex Len 117.9 98.9 19.0 14.7
Kent Bazemore 107.1 93.7 13.4 21.9
Trae Young 117.7 112.7 5.1 28.3
Jeremy Lin 98.7 97.4 1.3 15.1
Taurean Prince 113.9 112.9 1.0 21.1
Kevin Huerter 115.0 117.3 -2.4 15.3
Omari Spellman 108.2 111.8 -3.6 13.0
Dewayne Dedmon 109.5 115.5 -6.0 17.3
DeAndre' Bembry 99.0 105.9 -6.9 22.6

The only Hawks’ players with double-digit Net Ratings(NRtg) were Alex Len and Bazemore, and Bazemore was their best defender statistically at 93.7.

The earlier usage rates of 21.9% for Bazemore and 21.1% for Prince(of Whiteside knockdown fame) versus the Heat have changed since the Hawks gave the ball to Dewayne Dedmon(31%), Alex Len(26%), DeAndre’ Bembry(25%) against the Milwaukee Bucks, with Young’s percentage reduced to 16%.

Peachtree Hoops gave an idea how the Milwaukee Bucks dispatched the Hawks in the blowout showdown[bold added].

“The quickness and use of angles of Trae Young, the speed and verticality of John Collins are usually what the Hawks look to build upon early in games offensively. But against this long and athletic Bucks team, Young used his change of pace dribble and his typical ability to create passing lanes, only to find that he would penetrate the middle of the Milwaukee defense and suddenly realize there were no passing lanes.”

“Collins would roll off of a screen or from the weak side and leap toward the rim and realize he was far from alone there. And when your primary tools of attack are rendered mostly useless, it’s hard to know where turn next.”

When a 20-year-old rookie with 20 NBA game experience can steal the show against the Heat, a look in the mirror is necessary as a reality check going forward to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

A decisive win in Atlanta could indicate Miami deserves consideration to be in the mix for more than a first-round exit, and to escape the dreaded purgatory of mediocrity this season.