Atlanta Hawks coach Larry Drew felt his players overlooked a
Miami team playing without LeBron James and Dwyane Wade in a
stunning loss last month.
With James, Wade and Chris Bosh firing on all cylinders, it will
be hard for the Hawks to look past the surging Heat in Sunday
night’s matchup at Philips Arena.
With James and Wade sidelined, the Jan. 5 meeting between the
top two teams in the Southeast Division seemed to spell certain
doom for Miami (20-7). The Heat suffered a 100-92 home loss to the
Hawks just three days earlier with James, Wade and Bosh all playing
at least 38 minutes, but didn’t fold despite being shorthanded for
Bosh scored 33 and Mario Chalmers had 22 of his 29 points after
the third quarter in a 116-109 triple-overtime victory. A
then-healthy Al Horford couldn’t take advantage of Miami’s
deficiencies down low as the Hawks (18-9) were outscored 58-36 in
“The tendency is to let your guard down, and we certainly did,”
Drew said afterward.
It’s unlikely Drew’s team will have that problem again.
After opening a season-high six-game road trip with Wednesday’s
102-89 loss to Orlando, the Heat bounced back with a 106-89 win
over Washington on Friday, their ninth victory in 11 games. Wade
finished with 26 points on 11-of-18 shooting against the Wizards,
while Bosh had 24 points and 11 rebounds and James added 18 points
and nine assists.
Wade is averaging 27.2 points in his last five games – 5.0
better than his season average – and the Heat are 11-1 when Bosh
reaches his average of 19.4 points.
James, who averages team highs of 28.1 points and 7.0 assists,
and Wade hooked up on a pair of alley-oop dunks 97 seconds apart
late in the first half Friday.
“We want to be efficient, and that’s the most important thing,”
coach Erik Spoelstra said. “We have a team that feeds off electric
plays, and that’s fine. I’m not going to put the reins on that, so
we’ll continue to get better at that.”
Miami’s up-tempo offense will likely be tested by Atlanta, which
has allowed 87 points in each of its last two games.
After beating Indiana by 10 on Wednesday to snap a season-high
three-game skid, the Hawks defeated the Magic 89-87 in overtime
“Coming in here a little short-handed and a little depleted, I
thought our guys did a great job in just responding to the
challenge,” Drew said. “We really wanted to come in here and play
with aggression … I thought we really did a great job.”
Josh Smith had another impressive showing, finishing with 23
points and a season-high 19 rebounds. He had 28 points and 12
boards against the Pacers after averaging 8.3 points on 35.1
percent shooting and 7.3 rebounds in his previous four games.
Smith didn’t have much of an impact in Atlanta’s first two games
with Miami, finishing with nine points and six rebounds in the win
and 17 points and 13 boards in the triple-OT loss. He had only four
points on 2-of-7 shooting after regulation.
Joe Johnson, selected to his sixth All-Star game on Thursday,
had 21 points in the win and 20 in the loss.