An all-around dominant team performance propelled the No. 1 team in the East to a blowout victory in Game 1 on Sunday in which Trae Young struggled mightily and his teammates couldn’t do much to either help shoulder the scoring load or limit the Heat’s shooters from putting their stamp on the game. Duncan Robinson had his best game of the season at a very opportune time, going 9-10 overall and 8-9 from beyond the arc to finish with 27 points, while PJ Tucker enjoyed his best performance in a long time with 16 points — with the forward able to not just hit much-needed 3-pointers but also some nifty floaters that blunted the presence of Atlanta’s big men in the paint.
Just about the only critique that can be said for Jimmy Butler’s scintillating Game 1 performance was his shaky 2-7 shooting from the free throw line but otherwise expect another solid game from the All-Star along with Kyle Lowry and Bam Adebayo. We already know these three should bring plenty of production spread out over the box score, but the difference between the Heat and the Hawks is the varied weapons Miami can count on without over-relying on their “Big 3”.
In contrast, Atlanta must rely on Young to not just step up and rebound with a dominant game but they’ll need to count on some big games from at least two other players to have a chance to make this a competitive game. Danilo Gallinari led the team with 17 quiet points but coach Nate McMillan needs shooters like Bogdan Bogdanovic or Kevin Huerter to take some of the pressure off their All-Star point guard, as it is too easy for the Heat’s defense to simply zero in on Young and pressure him quickly at the top of the key.
We can expect a rested Young to bounce back and adjust (somewhat) to the Heat’s defensive scheme, which was on clear display in the very first play of Game 1 in which defenders rapidly switched on him and forced him to cough up the ball. But the same could be said for the presumptive NBA Sixth Man of the Year Tyler Herro, who was ineffective in Game 1 with just six points on 3-11 shooting and 0-4 from 3-point range but should be able to settle down and play more freely tonight. While Herro also contributed five rebounds and five assists, he also had five turnovers in 23 minutes played. If he has any semblance of his usual game performances tonight while Robinson/Tucker can continue their fine form, or Max Strus gets hot from the field, then the Heat should be in good shape to take a 2-0 series lead.
Eastern Conference Finals Schedule
|Game 1||Tuesday, May 17||Boston @ Miami||8:30 p.m. ET||ESPN|
|Game 2||Thursday, May 19||Boston @ Miami||8:30 p.m. ET||ESPN|
|Game 3||Saturday, May 21||Miami @ Boston||8:30 p.m. ET||ABC|
|Game 4||Monday, May 23||Miami @ Boston||8:30 p.m. ET||ABC|
|Game 5*||Wednesday, May 25||Boston @ Miami||8:30 p.m. ET||ESPN|
|Game 6*||Friday, May 27||Miami @ Boston||8:30 p.m. ET||ESPN|
|Game 7*||Sunday, May 29||Boston @ Miami||8:30 p.m. ET||ESPN|
- PJ Tucker: questionable (calf)
- Gabe Vincent: probable (toe)
- Markieff Morris: questionable (hip)
- Dewayne Dedmon: questionable (ankle)
- Bam Adebayo: questionable (bruised left quad)
- Haywood Highsmith: day-to-day
- Lou Williams: day-to-day (back)
- Clint Capela: out (knee)
|Marcus Smart||PG||Kyle Lowry|
|Jaylen Brown||SG||Max Strus|
|Jayson Tatum||SF||Jimmy Butler|
|Al Horford||PF||PJ Tucker|
|Robert Williams III||C||Bam Adebayo|
FiveThirtyEight gives the Heat an 72% chance to win the game.
- TV: Bally Sports Sun (Eric Reid, John Crotty, Kristen Hewitt)
- NATIONAL TV: TNT (Ian Eagle, Jim Jackson, Rebecca Haarlow)
- RADIO: The Ticket 790 AM (Jason Jackson, Ruth Riley Hunter, Jonathan Zaslow, Tommy Tighe) *HEAT Radio Network includes: West Palm Beach – WUUB ESPN 106.3 FM, Stuart – WSTU 1450 AM & The Keys – WKWF 1600 AM and WAVK 97.7 FM
- SPANISH RADIO: WRTO Mix 98.3 FM (José Pañeda, Joe Pujala) *HEAT Spanish Radio Network includes: WEFL ESPN Deportes 760 AM
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