Atlanta Hawks vs. Miami Heat: Preview, Analysis and Predictions

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Atlanta Hawks vs. Miami Heat: Preview, Analysis and Predictions
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

In a battle between Southeast Division foes, the Atlanta Hawks will travel to Miami to play the Heat. This will be the fourth and final regular-season meeting between the two teams this season.

Miami has won all three of the previous games—95-89, 101-92 and 103-90.

Entering the game, the Hawks are 34-28 overall and 15-17 on the road. They've lost two in a row and five of their past six, yet they remain just .5 games behind the Chicago Bulls for fifth in the Eastern Conference.

They're in seventh place as it presently stands.

As for the Heat, they're 47-14 overall and 29-3 at home. They're in the midst of a franchise record 18-game winning streak and are 8.5 games ahead of the New York Knicks for first in the Eastern Conference.

The question is, will the streak continue?

 

Time: Tuesday, Mar. 12 at 7:30 p.m. EDT

TV: TSOH & Sun Sports

Records: Atlanta Hawks (34-28, 15-17 road) at Miami Heat (47-14, 29-3 home)

Betting Line: Heat (-10)

 

Atlanta Hawks Injury Report

Zaza Pachulia, Achilles, Questionable

Lou Williams, Torn ACL, Out

 

Miami Heat Injury Report

N/A

 

Key Story Line: Will the Streak Survive?

Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

The Miami Heat have won a franchise-record 18 consecutive games. The last time the defending NBA champions lost was on Feb. 1 at the Indiana Pacers.

That's more than five weeks ago.

Matched up with a divisional rival that has faced them three times this season, however, another win will be tough to come by. The Hawks may be reeling, but they also have postseason seeding to compete for.

We can only expect Josh Smith and company to come out firing.

For what it's worth, this would be a rare sweep in this rivalry. In fact, there hasn't been a season sweep in six years. The last time Miami won all four games against Atlanta was during the 2006-07 season

This victory just became all the more difficult to come by. 

 

Key Matchup: Mario Chalmers vs. Jeff Teague

Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Josh Smith and LeBron James will go at it and provide us with a memorable individual battle. Chris Bosh and Al Horford will battle along the interior and create another one-on-one showdown to remember.

The fact of the matter is, this game will be determined by the unsung heroes—Mario Chalmers and Jeff Teague.

Teague remains under the radar, but he's been one of the best point guards in the NBA this season. Averages of 14.6 points, 7.0 assists and 1.5 steals on 37.8 percent shooting from beyond the arc proves such.

Considering Teague has topped 25 points and nine assists in two of his past three games, we could be in store for something special.

Fortunately for Miami, Chalmers has an uncanny ability to come out of nowhere with a monster performance. That's what we can expect against Atlanta as the point guard battle takes center stage.

Keep in mind, Chalmers scored 26 in Miami's most recent game against the Indiana Pacers.

 

X-Factor: Kyle Korver, Atlanta Hawks

USA TODAY Sports

During his past four games, Kyle Korver is shooting an uncharacteristically poor 29.4 percent from beyond the arc. If the Atlanta Hawks plan on winning this game, they'll need Korver to snap out of this funk.

Fortunately, Korver is shooting 45.6 percent from three-point range for the season—the odds say he'll bounce back.

Not only will Atlanta need Korver to provide supporting fire from the perimeter, but they'll need a monster game from him. Double-digit scoring and multiple three-point field goals is the only option for the Hawks.

Playing against fourth quarter maestro Dwyane Wade, it's not hard to understand why.

Wade was second in the NBA in field goals made with 5:00 or less remaining in the fourth quarter or overtime during the month of February. Chances are, we'll see more of the same as he looks to extend the Heat's legendary winning streak.

If Korver can counter Wade's production with the three-ball, however, Atlanta can secure this win.

 

Prediction

The Miami Heat are clearly the favored team in this game, as their 18-game winning streak would suggest. With that being said, the Atlanta Hawks will be champing at the bit to break up their rival's success.

Who will win?

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So who will win?

LeBron James will casually flirt with a triple-double and force Josh Smith to overcompensate. This will lead to openings for Miami to pull away, but the Hawks will keep it close with the three-ball and Al Horford's production.

Jeff Teague will even give Atlanta an early fourth quarter lead.

When it's all said and done, however, Dwyane Wade will be too much down the stretch. Not only is he a dominant force, but he's one of the league's elite fourth quarter performers.

With Kyle Korver and Devin Harris unable to match Wade's scoring, the Heat secure their 19th consecutive win.

 

Miami Heat 102, Atlanta Hawks 97

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