|Hawks crave more from Young in rematch with torrid Heat|
The Miami Heat, who play host to the Atlanta Hawks for a second straight game on Tuesday night, have not looked like a championship team for much of this season.
Perhaps it was a hangover from the summer of 2020, when the Heat perfectly handled the COVID-19 pandemic "bubble" to advance all the way to the NBA Finals, where they lost to the Los Angeles Lakers.
This season, the Heat were out of the playoff picture at 11-17 before catching fire with six straight wins, evening their record on Sunday for the first time since they were 4-4.
Miami beat Atlanta, 109-99, on Sunday, giving the Heat their longest regular-season win streak since 2017-2018.
"That was a big-time win for us," said guard Kendrick Nunn, who led the Heat with 24 points on Sunday. "We took another step in the right direction."
Atlanta, which has lost two straight games, got a game-high 34 points from John Collins, who also added 10 rebounds. Clint Capela, who leads the NBA in offensive rebounds, also had a double-double with 20 points and 14 boards. Nine of those rebounds were on the offensive glass.
But while Hawks were plus-four on offensive rebounds and plus-two in the paint on Sunday, they did not survive a rare poor shooting night from star guard Trae Young, who was held to 15 points -- 12 below his average.
Young shot 3-for-14 from the floor, including 2-for-8 on 3-pointers. Miami held him scoreless in the first and third quarters, and Young had just six points entering the game's final seven minutes.
"He knows teams are going to throw different defenses at us," Hawks coach Lloyd Pierce said. "A lot of it is focused on taking the ball out of Trae's hands."
Despite the pressure exerted by the Heat to get the ball out of the grasp of Young, he nearly had a triple-double, finishing with nine assists and eight rebounds.
Pierce said Young could've had more assists if not for some missed open shots by his teammates.
"We have to punish teams (for double-teaming Young)," Pierce said. "But if we don't make shots, there's nothing we can do."
Indeed, the Hawks shot just 41.4 percent from the floor, including 8-for-35 on 3-pointers (22.9 percent). Kevin Huerter made just 1 of 9 treys and Danilo Gallinari was 0 of 7 from distance.
Young, Huerter and Gallinari -- three players known for their shooting skills -- went a combined 3-for-24 on 3-pointers. For the season, those three players shoot 36.7 percent or better from 3-point territory.
Collins, meanwhile, carried the Hawks, scoring just one point under his career high. He was especially hot in the third quarter, scoring a career-best 19 points.
In Tuesday's game, it is likely that the Hawks get more from Young and less from Collins, assuming both return to form.
For the Heat, the question will be if Jimmy Butler is healthy enough to return after missing Sunday's game with inflammation in his right knee.
Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said the issue is minor, adding that Butler's knee "didn't loosen up" properly.
On most nights, the Heat don't survive without Butler, who leads Miami in points (20.1), assists (7.8) and steals (1.9). The Heat are just 4-9 without Butler and 13-8 with him.
Two other Heat players to watch are Bam Adebayo and Tyler Herro.
Adebayo has a double-double in a career-high-tying six consecutive games and is averaging 19.5 points and 9.7 rebounds.
Herro, who had missed three straight games due to a hip injury, took a while to warm up but got hot at the end on Sunday, scoring 12 of his 14 points in the fourth quarter.
--Field Level Media