The Hawks acted as the aggressors to start this one, they took an early lead as the Heat struggled to find their footing. After 4 games with Justise controlling the offensive pace, you could tell his absence was noticed. It was Kendrick Nunn who would pick up the offensive for the Heat, pushing the pace and scoring some beautiful looks. His strong play would let the Heat steal back the lead and build on it.
Jimmy Butler was quiet to start in terms of points, but he worked to get everything else going and it worked. Bam showcased his improved jump shooting and passing. He’s been great this year, and will continue to be an essential piece for the Heat moving forward. His ability to handle the ball, and move at the speed he does really separates him from the pack. Miami’s efficient offense allowed them to develop a double digit lead, but it wouldn’t last.
Despite Miami’s strong defense limiting the Hawks for most of the quarter they would eventually find their groove towards the end of the quarter, going on an 8-1 run to get into striking distance. The Heat would enter the second quarter only up 4.
Tyler Herro picked up where he left off the other night, helping the Heat stretch the lead. Chris Silva was also a bright sport for the Heat, showcasing the hustle that has made him so valuable so far. He fought for rebounds, attempted charges and was everywhere he could. Kelly Olynyk snapped out of his slump hitting some nice looks to let the Heat once again get within double digits.
Atlanta’s young guns would tantalize on some highlight plays, but without Trae Young they really didn’t have a scoring punch. With that, the Heat would cruise to a 15 point lead.
Once again the Hawks would find life towards the end of the quarter, closing the gap to get with five. The Heat would stop the bleeding, but go into the second half only up 6.
This was nationally televised game, and Charles Barkley was adamant that the Heat would come to lose this game. (Hint: They didn’t)
It was Duncan Robinson who would get things going in the third for the Heat with a great look from beyond the arc. Thrust into starters minutes with Justise out, Robinson was solid in his role hitting open looks, running the right lanes and playing decent defense.
Kendrick Nunn would go on a beautiful scoring run and the Heat’s lead would stretch out to double digits again. It’s truly remarkable how consistent Nunn has been since the beginning of the season. Nunn does a great job slashing to the basket and finishing at the rim. His presence is huge when other Heat players are struggling to score.
Jimmy Butler didn’t shine in a scoring role, but his presence was noticed on the defensive end as he shut down Hawk’s players and even rejected a couple of looks. On offense he acted like a facilitator getting nearly everybody involved.
Like the quarters before them, the Hawks would on another run to cut the lead to single digits this time led by Jabari Parker and DeAndre’ Bembry. This was such a weird issue that the Heat don’t usually have, despite leading almost 18 at one point the Heat would go into the fourth quarter up only 10.
The Heat were stagnant to start the fourth, and the Hawks took full advantage to get within four points. It was Tyler Herro who would steal back momentum with a well timed three pointer. It’s awesome to see Herro really stepping up in big moments. Where most rookies would hesitate, Herro is embracing the challenge and is not afraid to fail.
Chris Silva also got involved once again, breathing life into the team. With the Hawks pressing, the Heat lost control slightly around the six minute mark. It was Meyers Leonard who would bring the Heat back into the driver’s seat with two big threes.
One thing that was noticeable was how often Miami shared the ball, and how often it got them into trouble. It’s no secret that the Heat have an issue with turnovers, but many were caused by excessing passing. It’s one thing to be unselfish, but it’s another to make bad passes. They’ll need to clean that up.
Still despite their shortcomings, and nearly relinquishing the lead at the end of every quarter the Heat were ultimately the better team tonight. Everybody who stepped onto the court played a role, and with a good team effort the Heat improved to 4-1.