January 12, 2022; Atlanta, Georgia, United States; Atlanta Hawks guard Trae Young (11) comes out of defense for Miami Heat forward Caleb Martin (16) during the third quarter at State Farm Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports
The Miami Heat can take their winning streak to four games as they arrive home for the first time in 17 days to host the Atlanta Hawks on Friday.
The Heat are 4-2 on that long road trip and have won the last three games, including Wednesday’s 115-91 decision against the Hawks. Success came in spite of being extremely short-staffed; six players were on the inactive list on Wednesday.
“We live in a world and a profession right now where there has just been an inordinate amount of moving parts and our guys have handled it really well,” said Miami coach Erik Spoelstra. “I give them a lot of credit.”
Top scorer Jimmy Butler, averaging 23.2 points, could return on Friday. He missed three games with a sprained right ankle. Illness and injuries forced the Heat to lean on their bench and reservists Tyler Herro and Duncan Robinson responded. Herro led the team with 21 points on Wednesday and Robinson had 14, including three 3 points.
“I think what this team has learned to do is keep finding a way to win with different lineups and different people,” said Robinson.
The Heat did a good job neutralizing Trae Young of Atlanta, who ranks third in the NBA with 27.7 points. Caleb Marin was given the task of staying ahead of the smaller Young and helped him limit him to 15 points, which was his second lowest total of the season. Young scored 50 against the Heat on February 20, 2020.
Miami has won eight of its last 10 and is third in the Eastern Conference at the midpoint. Atlanta is heading in the opposite direction, losing seven of its last 10 games and dropping six games under 0.500 and below the playoff line.
“There’s still a lot of season left so we’re just taking one game at a time and trying to win games,” said Atlanta coach Nate McMillan, who returned to the bench after running out of protocol time. health and safety. “We know the more games we lose, the deeper this hole gets for us. There are a lot of games left. We have time, but we have to start going about business here.
The Hawks suffered a painful drought on Wednesday as the Heat opened the second half on a 16-0 streak to put the game on cruise control.
“I think we did a good job in the first quarter defending them. We had a lead and won the first quarter, ”said McMillan. “But you have to maintain this. It’s a 48 minute game and we just couldn’t make it. Their second unit arrived and continued to put pressure on our defense.
Atlanta forward De’Andre Hunter returned on Wednesday. Hunter previously played in a game on Nov. 12 and was sidelined with a right wrist injury. He is considered the best defensive player on the team and came back to score 15 points in 24 minutes. The Hawks are still without Clint Capela, who remains uncertain with a sprained ankle.
Several outlets reported Thursday that the Hawks were trading Cam Reddish to the New York Knicks in exchange for Kevin Knox.
The Hawks and Heat meet for the second time on Friday and play again on January 21 in Atlanta.
–Field level media