Heat-Hawks Preview

Though much of the buzz surrounding the trade deadline focused on whether they'd move a pair of key starters, the Atlanta Hawks decided to stick with their core.

The Miami Heat also engaged in only minor tweaks despite the uncertainty surrounding Chris Bosh.

With the Southeast Division lead at stake, the clubs return to action Friday night when short-handed Miami looks to take the season series and win for the sixth time in seven road games.

Al Horford and Jeff Teague were rumored to be heading elsewhere Thursday with Atlanta (31-24) far off the pace of last year's 60-win season. Coach Mike Budenholzer, however, said post-deadline that the team never really came close to dealing away one of its top players.

“We very much like our group,” he said. “We're fortunate to have really good players and a good team. I think continuity is something we value through the summer and through the season. We'd like to be better. We'd like to be more consistent. We'd like to play better.”

The Hawks did make a minor change in a three-team deal that moved seldom-used guards Shelvin Mack and Justin Holiday and brought in guard Kirk Hinrich from Chicago.

Although they've had a disappointing first half, the Hawks still lead the division by one game over the Heat (29-24).

Horford averaged 18.8 points in four games prior to the All-Star break, while Teague scored 20 per game and hit 14 of 26 from 3-point range over his past six.

“We want to redeem ourselves for the first half,” said forward Kent Bazemore, who had a career-high 28 points in a 100-88 home loss to Miami on Dec. 14. “I feel like this team here is very talented. We have everything we need to make a big run in the playoffs.”

Teague led the way with 26 points and nine assists and Horford added 17 points and 13 rebounds in a 98-92 win at Miami on Nov. 3 before Bosh finished with 24 points and 10 boards in the December meeting and 18 and seven in a 105-87 home victory Jan. 31.

Bosh, though, won't be available in this matchup after a person with knowledge of the situation told The Associated Press earlier this week that the All-Star forward is again on blood-thinning medication to combat a clot in his leg. He was declared out for the season at the All-Star break a year ago when a clot on his lung threatened his life.

“A lot of people hear speculation on a lot of guys,” Dwyane Wade said. “I was around him, got a lot of opportunity to talk to him, to share things, and his spirits are very high. He's doing everything he can to make sure that he figures out what's going on within himself, but he's very positive.”

Miami must be as well as it did not make a move to boost its ailing frontcourt Thursday. The club, however, did reportedly save $14 million by trading Jarnell Stokes, Brian Roberts and Chris Andersen for second-round draft picks.

Although they fell at home to the Los Angeles Clippers and San Antonio prior to the break, the Heat have played well away from home by winning five of their past six. Wade, however, has struggled in his last two trips to Atlanta, totaling 20 points on 8-of-29 shooting.

Luol Deng has come up big by scoring a combined 35 in the two wins over the Hawks.