Atlanta Hawks: Big game tonight . . . for the Heat?

Miami–So we know the Hawks think this game tonight is the start of a stretch that will let us know what they are about. Listening to the Heat at shootaround today, they think the Hawks are a test, too.

Fresh off a beatdown of the Cavs following a few days of LeBron-centered turmoil, Miami is headed out on a four-game road trip after this.

They say they consider this game against the Hawks a big deal.

“For a couple different reasons,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “For us to build on these three games, but also we are playing a hot team, regardless of Joe Johnson being out. And they are ahead of us [in the East]. We don’t need anymore motivation than that.”

I suppose the Hawks can be considered “hot” considering their five-game winning streak, though it’s not the word I’d use after that weird W last night. Definitely “resilient” and also “fortunate.” At this point they could use a victory against a good team just for some confidence.

In any event, it’s Atlanta’s offense that has the Heat’s attention. That’s no surprise since defense always permeates the culture of Pat Riley’s teams.

“They can still score [without J.J.],” Spoelstra said. “They are one of the most efficient basketball teams in league. They are a great shooting team. They get guys in the right spots and they don’t miss if they are open. There’s more movement, but still a lot of times end up in the possession of one of those scorers’ hands with a one-on-one attack mode.

“You’ve got to get them on the move and really contain them one-on-one. Crawford is very good one-on-one. He can shoot it, drive it, draw fouls. The same with Smith and Horford. Bibby is an excellent open shooter. All of those guys are very familiar with each other.”

The interesting thing is Miami’s mantra is, as Spolestra put it, “Protect the paint. Protect the rim.” We’ve seen that the Hawks can create quality jump shots with their motion but they are still jump shots, and last night we saw what happens when they don’t fall. Atlanta still hasn’t shown it can defend for long stretches and grind out games against good opponents when the offense isn’t clicking.

If the Hawks can rebound, though, then they can run, and that’s something different.

“The biggest thing that makes them a tough cover and a tough matchup is their four and fives handle the ball and make a lot off plays for them,” D-Wade said. “They are pushing it. I was just watching the tape, and I saw one time where Bibby had the ball and he threw it to Horford in the middle of floor and he pushed it. You don’t see that. Usually it’s the guards that get the ball and tell the bigs to run down the floor.

“They are a difficult team to guard, they have guys that make plays. They have gotten better every year but this is probably the best Hawks team they have had in a while. It will be a great challenge and we look forward to it.”

How’s that for some hyperbole? Big game tonight for both sides, I guess.

MC

57 comments Add your comment

Brazil!

December 4th, 2010
2:07 pm

GO HAWKS!! Trade Crawford

Show me state

December 4th, 2010
2:23 pm

I really wanna see how da hawks respond on da road in a hostile enviroment down there in south beach…especially wit out joe. I still believe this team can still be very good wit out joe if only they have da mentality for it. We all know we feel safer wit joe in da lineup but at da same time it’s reality dat he’s not gonna be back till sometime in january. So in da meantime everybody gotta step it up and give it their all and play as a team most importantly. Get well joe and go hawks!!!

dhouse

December 4th, 2010
2:46 pm

The Hawks will ok without J.J. as long as Marvin step up and play well.

JeJe

December 4th, 2010
2:48 pm

Marvin, KEEP ATTACKING. EVEN IF LBJ IS GUARDING YOU, ATTACK

ATL FAN

December 4th, 2010
3:19 pm

LeBron was on fire against Cleveland, so hopefully with that game over he’ll settle down a bit and won’t play with the same level of intensity. If that happens, we MIGHT have a shot at this game. But you never know with the Heat. If one star has a cold night, they have 2 others that can pick their game out. Going to be a tough game and possibly a blowout with the Hawks back-to-back games…

Fundamentals

December 4th, 2010
3:23 pm

If Marvin continues to roll I think some of the pessimists will begin to take notice. Dude’s been doing what we’ve asked. Hopefully Smoove will check his ego for a Captain’s attitude tonight. We’ll need everyone on their game to take down the Heat in their house. I’m looking forward to a great game.

MC – Any word on Joe’s elbow? Any more word on why Sy? Is dude practicing at least?

JeJe

December 4th, 2010
3:23 pm

We match up well with this team. Bosh won’t do anything, Jamal can score 50 on Wade (it’s about damn time Jamal scores 50 points in a game – this is the one team he has not scored 50 points in a game on), and Marvin can try slow down LBJ

I think we will either lose by 30 or win in Overtime. Smoove needs to have a huge game tonight, which I think he will. He also needs to grow up

northcyde

December 4th, 2010
3:32 pm

It’s a big game for Miami because the same thing people say about us not beating a good team, applies to them also.

Like us, Miami has only beaten one good team all year. So this is a battle between two teams that seem to not be able to play up to their potential.

And I’m sure that while preseason doesn’t count, the preseason loss to us, when they were obviously trying to win the game, didn’t sit well with them either.

Kind of wish that Wade was out, to balance things out though.

JeJe

December 4th, 2010
3:44 pm

Smoove needs to bounce back tonight, Marvin needs to be aggressive, Jamal needs to score, and I think ZaZa will have a very good game

MsDee

December 4th, 2010
3:46 pm

MC,

I still would like to know why Josh Powell didnt see no more time on the court the other night..did he get hurt along the way? Also, is SY practicing yet?

RT

December 4th, 2010
3:46 pm

@ Northcyde, Wade don’t have to be out to balance things out for this game. It’s already balanced We have Joe out and they have two out with Haslem and Miller so I say that everything seems pretty even to me. It should be NO EXCUSES tonight.

MsDee

December 4th, 2010
3:47 pm

A battle against the records..Hawks are 7-2 on the road while Miami is 9-3 at home..interesting game tonight it will be!!

ZipIt

December 4th, 2010
3:53 pm

Jamal scored 52 points against the Heat as a Knick.

ZipIt

December 4th, 2010
4:03 pm

Actually Crawford is a Heat killer. He has had numerous good games against Miami. Heat fans dread playing his teams because he usually destroys them.

I am a newbie here (and a fan from afar)…but I really like your team.

You guys are very high on Teague. So I won’t go too crazy here but did you ever notice when the guy is on the floor, its like an immediate 5 point swing in favor of the opponents. He may be okay as a penetrator but he has no clue how to play PG.

This team needs a servicable back-up PG, like an Earl Watson type…boring but effective. Pass first/defense first.

Josh Smith is a terrific player but he has to learn how to pass out of the post,

With Marvin, he also would be a very solid/good player on many teams. He draws ire because of the PGs that were passed over in favor of him (I am not telling you anything you don’t know). He will have his chance with Joe out though and hopefully, he will continue to assert himself when JJ returns.

I would take Al Horford on my team anyday.

J.J.M.

December 4th, 2010
4:17 pm

I PRAY THAT THE REFS LET THE HAWKS PLAY TONIGHT. I do not want to see some bs calls on josh and horford

JeJe

December 4th, 2010
4:38 pm

If Horf or Smoove get into foul trouble, LET THEM PLAY IT THROUGH
I’m so damn tired of players getting into foul trouble, but NEVER fouling out.

THis is so damn Woody-esque. TRUST Horford. HE IS A LEADER. HE IS EXTREMELY INTELLIGENT OUT THERE.

I think we have a good chance of winning tonight.

And every team is afraid of Jamal…Cleveland last yr etc. Just let the guy play his game.

With Jamal, it’s instant offense, or him playing as a PG which he is not a true one

Michael Cunningham

December 4th, 2010
4:39 pm

@Fundamentals: “MC – Any word on Joe’s elbow? Any more word on why Sy? Is dude practicing at least?”

Joe had surgery Thursday, started rehab Friday. he is not making the trips.

Sy is not on the injured list anymore. he’s practicing, to what extent i’m not sure. it seems i get a different answer depending on whom i ask.

Michael Cunningham

December 4th, 2010
4:41 pm

@JeJe: (it’s about damn time Jamal scores 50 points in a game – this is the one team he has not scored 50 points in a game on),

Jamal lit up the Heat many times when he was with the Knicks. i was at MSG when he put 52 on them in ‘07 i think it was. the Heat used to hate seeing Jamal. it’s why any time you ask about the Hawks they bring up his name.

Michael Cunningham

December 4th, 2010
4:42 pm

@MsDee: “MC, I still would like to know why Josh Powell didnt see no more time on the court the other night..did he get hurt along the way? Also, is SY practicing yet?”

Powell is not injured to my knowledge. Sy is no longer on the injured list.

Michael Cunningham

December 4th, 2010
4:43 pm

@ZipIt: “Actually Crawford is a Heat killer. He has had numerous good games against Miami. Heat fans dread playing his teams because he usually destroys them.”

what he said.

cp

December 4th, 2010
4:49 pm

Will be a good test tonight. We need big games from our frontcourt. We need Josh, Al, and Marvin all attacking the rim and going after all rebounds. The Heat don’t have great size and I think the Hawks can take advantage of that but the guys cant settle for jumpers all night. Go strong to the rim.. We also need the bench to come in and play well. ZaZa needs to have a solid game. No fumbling the ball all over the place or getting blocked by guards…….. Is Wilkens playing tonight? I would like to see him out there playing some defense….I dont know who will guard Wade because he kills Mo everytime. Maybe Wilkens if he suits up.

Section 303

December 4th, 2010
5:03 pm

There is not a team on the schedule I want the Hawks to beat more than the Heat. How anyone could actually be a fan that team and their collection of d-bags is beyond me.

O'Brien

December 4th, 2010
5:13 pm

MsDee,

I think we didn’t see much of Josh Powell because horford got a lot of minutes at PF.

We need Marvin to have a good game tonight. He will be guardian LeBrat, so if Marvin can force lebron to play defense, that will help.

However, hawks cannot afford to start slow tonight. If the heat start fast, and the crowd gets into it, hawks will have a tough time.

Also, Wade is probably looking forward to being guardedly by Mo Evans. Over the offseason, Evans said something about bulking up to guard wade. He will get his chance tonight (assuming LD starts him).

RA

December 4th, 2010
5:19 pm

I think this is a big game for the heat. They have great individual talents, and that’s enough to get by (as the Hawks have shown several times this season, and last night), but I would not make the miistake, and it would be a mistake at this point, of saying that Miami is a great team. As far as tonight’s game is concerned, I think the Heat’s players and coach are more right than wrong.

RA

December 4th, 2010
5:21 pm

I agree with you on all counts O’brien, and you’re quite right about Wade. I just hope he doesn’t break a hip driving to the basket… He’s kinda fragile these days.

Banana peper

December 4th, 2010
5:34 pm

We are screwed. :(

tom

December 4th, 2010
5:56 pm

Marvin PLEASE bring it tonight!!!!!!! Looking for Jamal to kill the heat! Go HAWKS!

Najeh Davenpoop

December 4th, 2010
6:00 pm

Horford has always gotten the better of Bosh every time they have matched up in the last few years. The smart thing for the Hawks to do would be to feed Horford in the post against Bosh and let him go to work and get to the free throw line. If necessary I would even consider going with a big lineup from time to time to ensure that Horford gets matched on to Bosh. That is where the Heat will be most vulnerable. And on the flip side, with the Heat starting the 7′3″ Ilgauskas at center, Horford will be much less effective if he has to spend a lot of time matched up against him. I would definitely go with a steady diet of Collins at the 5 in this game.

Marvin and Smoove are going to have to step up on the perimeter to keep LeBron and Wade in check in this game. The Heat half court offense is mostly just isolation, but the Hawks have to find a way to force them into jumpshots instead of allowing them easy trips down the lane and to the free throw line. Maybe Damien Wilkins — or even Pape Sy — may get activated in this game to allow for some more aggressive perimeter defense.

More than anything, it will be really important for the Hawks not to settle for jump shots in this game. Jump shots will allow the Heat to get out on the break, where they are most effective.

Najeh Davenpoop

December 4th, 2010
6:03 pm

Oh yeah, and one area in which the Heat are very vulnerable is in not having role players who can do the dirty work. Haslem was that guy for them, but he is injured. The Hawks have struggled in this area themselves this season, but Zaza and Powell need to be mixing it up and getting on the floor for loose balls more than ever in this game. This is an area in which the Hawks can have a huge advantage, if they want.

brigadierjerry

December 4th, 2010
6:11 pm

I actually feel that Hawks match up very well with the Heat. If the two meet in the playoffs I can really see Hawks having a good chance to beat them as currently constituted

shooter

December 4th, 2010
6:25 pm

when did we pick up damien wilkins i saw him on bench last night….

Blast

December 4th, 2010
6:37 pm

I’m glad this game is on the road. Maybe Hawks will be really focused, and not start slow. This game is a test for both teams. Both teams want it really bad, to validate their current win streaks, and up one on the standings. I can’t wait to see who is gonna take it.

LeBrat! I love that!

tony

December 4th, 2010
6:44 pm

Send Jeff Teague and our 2nd round pick to Washington for Kirk Hinrich.

ATL FAN

December 4th, 2010
7:22 pm

Let’s go Hawks!!! It’s game time!!

O'Brien

December 4th, 2010
7:42 pm

I would like to see these guys foul LeBrat hard. We dont want to give him any And ones that may get the crowd into it.

I wonder if LD will give Josh some minutes at SF too?

O'Brien

December 4th, 2010
7:45 pm

3 points and 2 rebounds for Bibby already

O'Brien

December 4th, 2010
7:46 pm

Where was Josh on that rebound? Bosh was wide open.

Speaking of Josh, LD needs to keep a close eye on him. he is already 0-2 on jumpers

Blast

December 4th, 2010
7:52 pm

Too many Hawks fouls early.

O'Brien

December 4th, 2010
7:52 pm

Hawks are doing the same thing they do when JJ is in ISO mode. Nobody rotates over to give the person with the ball (in this case, Horford) an easy outlet pass.

LD needs a timeout

lukas

December 4th, 2010
7:53 pm

What the hell is going on!!!

Why??

December 4th, 2010
7:54 pm

Why would marvin help lebron up?? Smh hes soft and thats the problem with marv..Never help the opponent during a the game!!! smh t

O'Brien

December 4th, 2010
7:56 pm

Lebron has 6, Bosh has 4, and Wade has 4. BTW, Miami has 14 total.

Come on Hawks. Stop turning the ball over. We look timid

ATL FAN

December 4th, 2010
8:00 pm

Spoke early Obrien

No Facade

December 4th, 2010
8:03 pm

Smooth shooting the rock with some confidence tonight aint he! lol

No Facade

December 4th, 2010
8:04 pm

Heres where we make our run!

O'Brien

December 4th, 2010
8:04 pm

good defense by Damien Wilkins.

O'Brien

December 4th, 2010
8:20 pm

Old Marvin has returned. But Hawks need to step up their defense.

James, Bosh and Wade have combined for 35 points.

Loserville USA

December 4th, 2010
8:24 pm

FRAUD continues.

Hawks are an example of what’s wrong with the NBA.

About 6 good competitive teams. The rest range from bad to completely horrible.

O'Brien

December 4th, 2010
8:33 pm

Ken Strickland,

Although we are playing without JJ, the old Hawks team has shown up tonight. You know, the same Hawks team that were 0-6 against playoff teams this season.

I hope LD can make some adjustments at halftime, because this is still a winnable game.

Meanwhile, LeBron, Bosh and Wade have outscored the Hawks by themselves.

Blast

December 4th, 2010
8:36 pm

Bibby was fouled. Josh was pushed. The NBA sucks in officiating.