The Atlanta Hawks don’t seem to have much confidence offensively
when they visit Miami. An outstanding opening week of March,
though, should have them brimming with confidence right now.
Winners of four straight, the Hawks and their surging offense
look to end their road struggles against the Heat on Saturday
Atlanta (40-21) beat Milwaukee 106-102 in overtime Feb. 28, and
has averaged 118.3 points in winning its first three games of March
to produce the club’s longest winning streak since a six-game run
The Hawks, however, are opening a three-game trip at a venue
where they have not had much success.
Atlanta has lost 25 of its last 29 games at Miami, averaging
84.2 points and shooting 40.6 percent. That includes two losses in
three games in the first round of last year’s playoffs, a series
the Hawks ultimately won in seven games.
Atlanta has been held under 80 points in four of its last five
road games against the Heat (31-31), including a 92-75 loss Jan.
Miami has been stingy defensively overall this season, allowing
95.5 points per game.
However, the Hawks have scored at least 100 in five of their
last six games away from Philips Arena. They’re returning to the
road following a 127-122 home win over Golden State on Friday
Atlanta leading scorer Joe Johnson played despite flulike
symptoms. Johnson, averaging 21.5 points, was held to 10 on
Josh Smith and Al Horford helped the Hawks compensate. Smith had
a season-high 29 points while Horford added 27 with 15
“It was important we all came out and gave him support,” Horford
said of Johnson.
Johnson was limited to 11 points – shooting 4 of 15 – and Smith
had eight in January’s visit to Miami. Johnson was the only Hawks
starter to reach double figures.
Miami is coming off a big home win, 114-111 in overtime against
the Los Angeles Lakers on Thursday night. A victory over Atlanta
would give the Heat three straight at home for the first time this
Back at .500, Miami is in eighth place in the Eastern
Conference, one game ahead of Charlotte and one-half game behind
Dwyane Wade led the Heat with 27 points and a season-high 14
assists versus the Lakers, but Jermaine O’Neal made perhaps the
game’s biggest play. The center drew a crucial charge against
Lakers star Kobe Bryant with 18.7 seconds left in overtime.
“We have big-moment, big-player type guys that love to step up
to a big challenge like this and aren’t afraid of the moment,”
coach Erik Spoelstra said. “Obviously, Dwyane is like that,
Jermaine is like that. Udonis (Haslem), Quentin (Richardson) will
hit big shots. A lot of times it’s a fight and an argument to see
who’s going to shoot the ball. They’re not running from it. They
want the moment.”
Wade is averaging 31.5 points while shooting 61.5 percent (24
for 39) from the field and 93.8 percent (15 for 16) from the line
in his last two home games against the Hawks.
Miami leads the season series 2-1.