With the Heat heavily shorthanded, it was Max Strus who would open up scoring for Miami with a big three, but DeAndre Hunter wasn’t far behind answering with a three of his own. The Hawks had all of their players available in this one, but to start the Heat had momentum and Udonis Haslem starting! The momentum was immediately abrupted with some arena shot clock issues. The Heat defense was solid to start, preventing scoring by clogging the lanes and forcing bad shots. Unfortunately, some great finishing by DeAndre Hunter and John Collins helped propel the Hawks out to a ten-point lead and one they’d continue to build on. It wasn’t pretty for Miami, who looked stagnant on offense. They’d go into the second quarter down 18.
Despite the tough start, there were some positives for the Heat in the 2nd quarter, most notably Micah Potter who shot well and displayed a lot of hustle grabbing a ton of boards. Javonte Smart was also aggressive in driving the lane racking up some points. Unfortunately despite the positives Cam Reddish and the Hawks continued to run up the score on the Heat. Max Strus got back into a little bit of a groove towards the end of the quarter, but it didn’t amount to much. Miami was unable to get to the free-throw line and fouled too much on defense. With Atlanta rolling out a starting crew that most recently went to the Eastern Conference Finals, Miami’s training camp reserves couldn’t keep up. Both Capela and Young both had double-doubles in the half, and the Heat would go into the second half down 23.
Gabe Vincent and KZ Okpala would show out a little bit for Miami as the Heat worked to chip away at the large lead. There were some pretty nice plays, many orchestrated by Udonis Haslem. Haslem doesn’t play in games much, but when he does he’s still serviceable. This guy keeps himself in shape and practices with some of the league’s best nearly every day. Caleb Martin also had a highlight-reel dunk that capped off a 10-0 run for the Heat. It was Trae Young who would stop the bleeding for Atlanta with two threes, keeping the game way out of reach for the Heat.
In the fourth Micah Potter continued to play well, attacking the hoop aggressively and dishing out assists. His ability to get inside and be aggressive in the paint, while playmaking from weird angles makes him pretty unique. Potter had 14 points and 14 rebounds. KZ Okpala has also improved a lot, last season he seemed timid this season he’s confident and willing to make mistakes. Okpala had 10 points and 7 rebounds tonight. The Heat though still down by 20 points played hard, but momentum was halted by Huerter and Reddish. Miami would continue to fight, but it really only for pride as they lost by 35 marking the end of the undefeated preseason.
This was a painful game to watch and one that I’m thankful is a preseason game. Still, some of these young guys have a lot of potentials. Regardless, it’ll be nice to see the main rotation next week.