What to know about tonight’s game: A day after clinching playoff spot, Heat travel to face Hawks again

Miami Heat guard Goran Dragic, left, drives past Atlanta Hawks guard Tyler Dorsey during the second half of an NBA basketball game Tuesday, April 3, 2018, in Miami. The Heat won 101-98. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

MIAMI HEAT AT ATLANTA HAWKS

When: Wednesday, 7:30 p.m.

Where: Philips Arena, Atlanta

TV/Radio: Fox Sports Sun/WAXY 790AM, WRTO 98.3 FM (Spanish)

Records: Miami 42-36, Atlanta 22-56

Line: Miami favored by 8.5 points

PROJECTED STARTING LINEUPS

Heat

F: James Johnson

F: Josh Richardson

C: Hassan Whiteside

G: Tyler Johnson

G: Goran Dragic

Hawks

F: Taurean Prince

F: John Collins

C: Miles Plumlee

G: Damion Lee

G: Isaiah Taylor

Scouting report: Miami will be without Dion Waiters (left ankle surgery). … Atlanta is expected to be without Kent Bazemore (right knee bone bruise), Malcolm Delaney (left ankle sprain), Jaylen Morris (left ankle sprain) and Dennis Schröder (left ankle sprain, bone bruise). … The Hawks own the worst record in the Eastern Conference and are 2-12 over their past 14 games. … Atlanta has eight rookies on its roster, led by former Cardinal Newman High standout John Collins. Collins is averaging 10.5 points and 7.3 rebounds this season. … The Heat have posted a 12-8 record since the All-Star break, with five of those losses coming in overtime. … Since Dwyane Wade was traded to the Heat on Feb. 8, Miami’s bench has averaged a league-high 47.2 points per game. … Heat center Kelly Olynyk is two minutes and 21 seconds away from earning his $1 million bonus for playing at least 1,700 minutes during the regular season. … Miami, which clinched a playoff spot Tuesday, enters Wednesday in sixth place in the Eastern Conference. … The Heat have won two of their three matchups with the Hawks this season, including Tuesday’s 101-98 win in Miami.

[Five takeaways: Heat clinch playoff spot, move up to sixth in East with comeback win over Hawks]

[A look at the rotation Heat coach Erik Spoelstra is expected to stick with for the playoffs]

[No foul on Dwyane Wade’s final shot Saturday? Heat move on after Last Two Minute report]

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Five takeaways: Heat clinch playoff spot, move up to sixth in East with comeback win over Hawks

Atlanta Hawks forward DeAndre’ Bembry (95) shoots as Miami Heat center Hassan Whiteside, left, and guard Josh Richardson, center, defend during the second half of an NBA basketball game Tuesday, April 3, 2018, in Miami. The Heat won 101-98. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

MIAMI — The wait is over.

After missing out on a few opportunities to clinch a playoff spot over the past week, the Heat (42-36) finally secured a spot in the postseason with a dramatic 101-98 comeback victory over the Hawks (22-56) on Tuesday at AmericanAirlines Arena. It marked the fourth day Miami had a chance to punch its playoff ticket, as it came up empty on the previous three with the help of Saturday’s disappointing home loss to the Nets. Continue reading “Five takeaways: Heat clinch playoff spot, move up to sixth in East with comeback win over Hawks”

Five takeaways from Heat-Hawks: Shorthanded Heat can’t complete comeback, lose to team with NBA’s worst record

Atlanta Hawks’ Malcolm Delaney, left, moves to the hoop against Miami Heat’s Jordan Mickey in the first quarter of an NBA basketball game in Atlanta, Monday, Dec. 18, 2017. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

Erik Spoelstra asked his team to take a no-excuse mentality into Monday’s game.

The Heat (15-15) listened to their coach, cutting a 14-point fourth-quarter deficit to one with 1:05 remaining in the game despite having just nine healthy players available. But Miami didn’t have enough to complete the comeback, as the Hawks (7-23) closed the game on an 8-3 run to hold on for a 110-104 victory over the Heat at Philips Arena on Monday.

“Those last nine minutes, it would require that kind of effort, that kind of disposition,” Spoelstra said to reporters in Atlanta of the Heat’s late rally. “It didn’t even mean every possession was going perfectly, but you could see the level of urgency go way up. That’s what is required. And we just didn’t have it for the entire game.”

There are no moral victories for Miami, though. The loss came against the team with the NBA’s worst record.

Taurean Prince led the charge for the Hawks with 24 points, seven rebounds and three blocks. Atlanta guard Dennis Schroder helped out with 23 points, six rebounds and six assists.

Josh Richardson was one of the bright spots for the Heat, as he finished with 26 points. Dion Waiters fought through a stomach illness to score 23 points on 9-of-17 shooting.

Here are our five takeaways …

Nine is not enough: Injuries have tested the Heat’s depth plenty of times this season. But Monday was Miami’s biggest challenge, as it played without starting center Hassan Whiteside, starting point guard Goran Dragic, and forwards James Johnson and Justise Winslow. Rodney McGruder and Okaro White were also unavailable, as they continue to recover from their respective surgeries. With all of these players out due to injuries and center AJ Hammons still in Sioux Falls despite counting toward the 15-man roster, the Heat had just nine players available in Atlanta, which is one above the NBA-minimum of eight. All nine played against the Hawks, even veteran Udonis Haslem saw a minute of action.

“Not having enough bodies, that’s not an excuse,” Spoelstra said. “We had enough, and we had enough energy.”

Too many turnovers, not enough defense: The Heat rely on their defense to win games. And Miami wasn’t at its best on that end of the court Monday. The Heat allowed Atlanta to score 110 points, with 46 coming in the paint. And before the fourth quarter it was even worse, as the Hawks shot 49.2 percent over the first three quarters. That’s just not good enough for a Heat team that was missing a lot of their offensive firepower with Dragic, Johnson and Whiteside out. Oh, and Miami also committed 19 turnovers. Bad defense and too many turnovers is not a good combination for the Heat, or any NBA team.

Another game, another different starting five: The Heat played their 30th game of the season Monday. They also used their ninth different starting lineup of the season Monday. That’s a pretty high number for a Heat team that entered 2017-18 leaning on continuity after bringing back 11 players from last year’s season-ending roster. But blame a long list of injuries for all of the different starting combinations. With James Johnson, Dragic, Winslow and Whiteside unavailable, Miami started Tyler Johnson, Dion Waiters, Josh Richardson, Bam Adebayo and Kelly Olynyk against the Hawks. Entering the game, this group had logged just three minutes of playing time together this season. They exceeded that just in the first quarter, as this lineup played the first 6:34 and was outscored by the Hawks 19-15 during that time. This five won’t start too many more games together this season. Only injuries will force Spoelstra to use this combination as his starting lineup moving forward.

A December to remember for J-Rich: What a month it’s been for Josh Richardson. After a slow start to the season, Richardson has made up for it by playing the best basketball of his career in December. The 24-year-old continued this impressive stretch Monday with 26 points on 10-of-19 shooting to go with three steals and two blocks. He’s now averaging 17.3 points on 56.3 percent shooting in nine games this month. And Richardson is not just excelling on offense, he’s also been the Heat’s best defender this season. Richardson entered Monday limiting players he’s defending to 38 percent shooting (6.8 percent worse than their combined average shooting percentage).

“J-Rich is playing very good basketball on both ends of the court,” Spoelstra said. “So, from an energy standpoint, you’re talking about a guy who’s tasked with the best perimeter player every single night and then have incredible energy on the other end to get your team organized and also make some plays for the team. And he just continues to gain confidence. We want to fuel that and see where that can go. But I like the place that he’s in right now.”

What’s next?: A Wednesday game against the Celtics in Boston. It won’t be easy, considering the Celtics are 13-3 at home and own the Eastern Conference’s top record at 26-7. Throw in the fact that Miami could have to play without Dragic, Johnson, Winslow and Whiteside again, and you can expect the Heat to enter this contest as heavy underdogs. But a more favorable stretch is on the horizon, as the Heat will begin a four-game homestand and an eight-game stretch that includes seven home games on Friday. Wednesday’s matchup against the Celtics marks the end of a brutal 24-game stretch that included 17 on the road.

[Injury issues continue to follow Heat, with Goran Dragic out vs. Hawks]

[Mailbag: Who’s been the Heat’s biggest (positive) surprise — Bam Adebayo or Josh Richardson?]

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What to know about tonight’s matchup: Injury-depleted Heat look to continue hot stretch vs. Hawks

MIAMI HEAT VS. ATLANTA HAWKS

When: Monday, 7:30 p.m.

Where: Philips Arena, Atlanta

TV/Radio: Fox Sports Sun/WAXY 790AM, WAQI 710AM (Spanish)

Records: Miami 15-14, Atlanta 6-23

Line: Heat favored by 1 point

Miami Heat guard Josh Richardson drives against Atlanta Hawks center Miles Plumlee during the second quarter of an NBA preseason basketball game on Sunday, Oct. 1, 2017 at the AmericanAirlines Arena in Miami, Fla. (David Santiago/Miami Herald/TNS)

PROJECTED STARTING LINEUPS

Heat

F: Josh Richardson

F: Bam Adebayo

C: Kelly Olynyk

G: Dion Waiters

G: Tyler Johnson

Hawks

F: Taurean Prince

F: Ersan Ilyasova

C: Miles Plumlee

G: Kent Bazemore

G: Dennis Schroder

Scouting report: Center Hassan Whiteside (left knee bone bruise), forward James Johnson (right ankle bursitis), forward Justise Winslow (strained left knee) and guard Goran Dragic (sore left elbow) will miss Monday’s game. The Heat will also be without swingman Rodney McGruder (left tibia surgery) and forward Okaro White (left foot surgery), who are both out indefinitely. Guard Dion Waiters will play despite an illness. … The Hawks own the NBA’s worst record and enter on a four-game losing streak. … Point guard Dennis Schroder leads Atlanta with team-high averages in points (19.7) and assists (6.7). … Hawks rookie forward John Collins, who attended Cardinal Newman High in West Palm Beach, is averaging 11.3 points and 7.1 rebounds this season. … Atlanta ranks fifth in the league in 3-point shooting percentage at 38.3. … Heat small forward Josh Richardson is averaging 15.8 points on 55.1 percent shooting from the field and 53.1 percent shooting from 3-point range over his last 10 games. … Miami has won four of its past five games, and have posted the league’s second-best defensive rating during this five-game stretch. … The Heat defeated the Hawks 104-93 in Miami on Oct. 23 in their first matchup of the season.

[Heat forward James Johnson diagnosed with right ankle bursitis; expected to miss 7 to 10 days]

[Doc Rivers on Heat’s ‘unassuming’ Erik Spoelstra: ‘The greatest coach that no one knows’]

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Five takeaways: Heat let 21-point lead slip away, but hold on to defeat Hawks to move to 2-0 on homestand

Miami Heat guard Wayne Ellington (2) takes a shot against Atlanta Hawks center Dewayne Dedmon (14) during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Monday, Oct. 23, 2017, in Miami. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

MIAMI — For the second consecutive game, the Heat let a big lead slip away. But for the second consecutive game, the Heat held on.

Despite letting a 21-point third-quarter lead evaporate, Miami found a way to regain its footing for a 104-93 victory over Atlanta (1-3) at AmericanAirlines Arena on Monday. Continue reading “Five takeaways: Heat let 21-point lead slip away, but hold on to defeat Hawks to move to 2-0 on homestand”

Tonight’s matchup: Miami Heat look to go over .500 for first time since 2016-17 season opener with win over Atlanta Hawks

Miami Heat’s Dion Waiters (11) reacts after the Heat defeated the Indiana Pacers 112-108 during an NBA basketball game, Saturday, Oct. 21, 2017, in Miami. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

ATLANTA HAWKS VS. MIAMI HEAT

When: Monday, 7:30 p.m.

Where: AmericanAirlines Arena, Miami

TV/Radio: Fox Sports Sun/WAXY 790AM, WAQI 710AM (Spanish)

Records: Atlanta 1-2, Miami 1-1

PROJECTED STARTING LINEUPS

Hawks

F: Taurean Prince

F: Mike Muscala

C: Dewayne Dedmon

G: Kent Bazemore

G: Malcolm Delaney

Heat

F: Josh Richardson

F: James Johnson

C: Jordan Mickey

G: Dion Waiters

G: Goran Dragic

Scouting report: Miami center Hassan Whiteside will miss Monday’s game vs. Atlanta because of a bone bruise in his left knee. It marks the second consecutive game Whiteside has missed because of the injury. … The Hawks will without starting point guard Dennis Schroder (sprained left ankle) and starting power forward Ersan Ilyasova (left knee strain) against the Heat. … The Heat and Hawks split the 2016-17 season series, 2-2, with Miami winning the last two matchups against Atlanta. …  Miami guards Goran Dragic, Tyler Johnson and Dion Waiters played well against the Hawks last season. Dragic averaged 21.7 points, Johnson averaged 18.8 points and Waiters averaged 15.0 points against Atlanta in 2016-17. … With a win over the Hawks on Monday, the Heat would be over .500 for the first time since last season’s first game. … Atlanta will be playing its third game in four days and the fourth game of a five-game road trip. The Hawks fell to the Nets 116-104 at Brooklyn on Sunday and fell to the Hornets 109-91 at Charlotte on Friday. …  Hawks rookie John Collins, who attended Cardinal Newman High School in West Palm Beach, is averaging 11.0 points and 6.7 rebounds in three games this season … Along with Schroder and Ilyasova, Atlanta will also be without DeAndre’ Bembry (fractured right wrist) and Miles Plumlee (strained right quad). … The Heat will also be without Rodney McGruder (leg).

[Heat win in home opener a game they lost a year ago]

[Can the Heat finish as one of the top four teams in the Eastern Conference? Why not.]

[Erik Spoelstra says James Johnson’s ascent to being named Heat captain ‘one most special things’ in his career]

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Former Cardinal Newman standout John Collins plays first NBA preseason game in front of family, friends in Miami

MIAMI — John Collins has visited AmericanAirlines Arena many times as a fan. But he visited the arena Sunday for the first time as an NBA player.

The former Cardinal Newman basketball standout and current Hawks power forward kicked off the preseason with a game against the Heat on Sunday in Miami. Collins was impressive with nine points, 15 rebounds in 20 minutes of action.

It was a totally different experience than when he attended games at AmericanAirlines Arena to root on the Heat.

“I’ve been here too many times watching and now I’m actually going to be playing here,” Collins said before Sunday’s contest. “We play here two times a year during the regular season. That’s a surreal feeling. I don’t even know how to put words on that one.” Continue reading “Former Cardinal Newman standout John Collins plays first NBA preseason game in front of family, friends in Miami”

Former Miami Heat forward Luke Babbitt signs for minimum with Atlanta Hawks

 

Luke Babbitt of the Miami Heat takes a shot over Tristan Thompson of the Cleveland Cavaliers during a game in March. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

The last Miami Heat free agent has found a home.

Luke Babbitt, who started 55 games in his lone season with the Heat, has agreed to a one year deal with the Atlanta Hawks, according to ESPN. The contract is for the $1.9 million veteran’s minimum for a player with Babbitt’s experience, which is seven years.

The Heat acquired Babbitt from New Orleans last summer for a second-round pick. The deal came after the Heat reworked their team following the loss of Dwyane Wade, Joe Johnson and Luol Deng.

After re-signing forward James Johnson and adding free agent center/forward Kelly Olynyk, Heat President Pat Riley hinted last month that Babbitt, 28, would not be returning.

Miami is out of cap space and aside from veteran minimums it only has a $4.3 million exception remaining.

Babbitt, 6-foot-9, was tabbed as the starting power forward at the start of the season by coach Erik Spoelstra because of his ability to stretch the floor. He played in 55 games and of his 281 shots, 210 were 3-pointers, or 74.7 percent. Babbitt’s 3-point shot frequency was second in the league to Cleveland’s J.R. Smith (76.1 percent) among players who played at least 20 games.

Babbitt shot 41.4 percent on threes (87-of-210), 40.2 percent overall. His average though slipped to 4.8 points from 7.0 points the previous season.

He has made 43.8 percent of his 3-point shots in the last three seasons.

The Heat currently have 16 players under contract for the 2017-18 season: center Hassan Whiteside ($23.8 million), guard Goran Dragic ($17 million), forward James Johnson ($14 million), guard Dion Waiters ($11 million), center/forward Kelly Olynyk ($10.6 million), guard Wayne Ellington ($6.3 million), guard Tyler Johnson ($5.9 million), forward Justise Winslow ($2.7 million), center/forward Bam Adebayo ($2.5 million), forward Udonis Haslem ($2.3 million), guard Josh Richardson ($1.5 million), guard Rodney McGruder ($1.3 million), center A.J. Hammons ($1.3 million), forward Okaro White ($1.3 million), Derrick Walton Jr. (two-way contract) and Matt Williams Jr.

Babbitt, center Willie Reed and forward Josh McRoberts are the only players on the final roster from 2016-17 that will not be in training camp.

The Hawks will be Babbitt’s fourth team.

[Miami Heat coach Erik Spoelstra honored to be part of NBA’s Africa Game]

[Erik Spoelstra on Heat losing Willie Reed: ‘We’re always going to root for him’]ing decision]

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Five takeaways: Heat return from All-Star break to dominate Hawks, continue winning ways

ATLANTA — The All-Star break spanned eight days for Miami. But it wasn’t long enough to mess with the Heat’s momentum.

The Heat (26-32) continued their winning ways with a dominant 108-90 victory over the Hawks on Friday at Philips Arena. Miami has now won 15 of its past 17 games dating back to Jan. 17.

The win began Miami’s post All-Star break push to the playoffs, as it began the night 2.5 games out of the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Continue reading “Five takeaways: Heat return from All-Star break to dominate Hawks, continue winning ways”

Five takeaways from the Miami Heat’s 103-95 loss to the Atlanta Hawks

ATLANTA — The Heat aren’t just missing five injured players, they’re also missing their trademark defense at the moment.

Atlanta defeated Miami 103-95 at Philips Arena on Wednesday night to snap a seven-game losing skid. The shorthanded Heat played with just nine available players, as Luke Babbitt (hip flexor), James Johnson (rotator cuff strain), Josh Richardson (sprained ankle), Justise Winslow (sprained wrist) and Dion Waiters (torn groin muscle) did not travel with the team for its three-game trip. Continue reading “Five takeaways from the Miami Heat’s 103-95 loss to the Atlanta Hawks”