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Atlanta Hawks vs. Miami Heat: Postgame Grades and Analysis for Miami

Sean HojnackiFeatured ColumnistMarch 12, 2013

Atlanta Hawks vs. Miami Heat: Postgame Grades and Analysis for Miami

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    The Miami Heat brought an 18-game winning streak into Tuesday's contest against the Atlanta Hawks. Miami never trailed on their way to a 98-81 victory.

    Dwyane Wade led all scorers with 23 points, followed by LeBron James and Josh Smith with 15 each.

    Miami's lead never ballooned to full-fledged blowout proportions, but the game did not feel close at any point in the second half as the Heat comfortably completed the season sweep of Atlanta. 

    Miami shot just 37.5 percent from the field in the first quarter, but they opened up an eight-point lead by dominating Atlanta on the glass 16-4. Miami coasted from there.

    While the Hawks narrowed the rebounding margin somewhat in the second quarter, Miami continued to get to the free-throw line. The Heat shot 17-of-20 from the charity stripe in the first half while the Hawks were just 2-of-2.

    Miami led by 13 at the half and were never challenged after that. The Hawks managed only 37 points in the second half. It also didn't help that Atlanta committed 24 turnovers, handing 27 points to Miami.

    Perhaps the presence of P.J. "Quiet Storm" Brown—who was honored at halftime as part of the franchise's 25th anniversary celebrations, despite playing just four seasons with Miami—inspired the Heat to crush their opponent instead of toying with them.

    Miami extended their winning streak to 19 games, with their last loss coming way back on February 1 at the Indiana Pacers.

    Miami already had the best overall record in the league (47-14) and the best home record at 29-3.

    The 34-28 Hawks entered Tuesday in seventh place in the East, but just half a game out of fifth. Atlanta was 9-9 over their last 18 games, and if they keep sliding, they might find themselves playing Miami in the first round of the playoffs. 

    Judging by the way this contest went, that is to be avoided at all costs.

Point Guard

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    Mario Chalmers, PG: A-

    Chalmers led the Heat with 26 points in Sunday's victory against the Indiana Pacers.

    He came out shooting in this one as well, going 3-of-6 in the first half, all from behind the arc. He also dished four dimes in that span.

    Chalmers finished with 14 points on 5-of-8 shooting, and he flashed some sweet defense, netting three steals and a block. 

    Chalmers' offense was a crucial lift, especially considering LeBron James scored only one point more than his point guard.

Shooting Guard

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    Dwyane Wade, SG: A+

    Dwyane Wade turned in another sparkling performance on Tuesday night.

    He led the Heat through the first two quarters with 13 points. He also grabbed three offensive rebounds and dished three assists. That came as part of Miami's strong ball movement early, as they had 14 assists on 18 first-half field goals. 

    Wade finished with 23 points on 9-of-18 shooting, marking  the 10th straight game he's scored 20 or more. And "Flash" also had six assists.

    Wade has been a kleptomaniac lately. He tallied five steals against Atlanta, giving him 18 thefts across the last four games.

    LeBron James has been playing so well lately, he's overshadowed the vintage quality that D-Wade had demonstrated.

    In February, Wade averaged 23.9 points per game on 53.2 percent shooting, along with 6.2 rebounds, 5.5 assists and 2.5 steals. Through six games in March, Wade was shooting 58.3 percent from the field, which is ridiculous for a shooting guard.

    Maybe Wade should be called "Vino" instead of "W.O.W."

Small Forward

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    LeBron James, SF: B+

    James shot just 2-of-7 in the first half and committed three turnovers, but he did get to the line 10 times for his 11 points.

    LeBron finished with 15 points on 3-of-11 shooting, but he also had the highest rating on the team at plus-21. And don't forget about his seven boards, seven assists and two steals.

    While James has 28 points on 21 shots over the past two games, Miami won both by comfortable margins. This is largely because LeBron is still notching rebounds and assists in addition to his excellent defense. 

    It's just strange to see such a drop in production from King James.

    In February, James averaged 29.7 points on 64.1 percent shooting, plus 7.5 boards and 7.8 assists. His efficiency was even more impressive than that. He sank 82.4 percent of his shots attempts from three to nine feet and 61.8 percent from 16 to 23 feet (per HoopData.com).

    The only teams that have been able to hold him down are the two top defenses in the NBA: the Indiana Pacers and Memphis Grizzlies. Perhaps we should credit Atlanta's defense for containing James, but they still got burned by the rest of the Heat.

Power Forward

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    Udonis Haslem, PF: B

    Haslem cleaned up on the glass, reeling in 10 boards in the first half. He was rested for most of the fourth quarter, but still finished with six points to go with his excellent rebounding effort. 

    Haslem is averaging just 3.6 points per game, but he offers tremendous value that is not shown on his stat line.

    The Heat are plus-120 with Haslem in the starting five, and just plus-82 when Shane Battier replaces him. When Battier and Haslem play together and Chris Bosh sits out, they form the third best unit for Miami at plus-55 (per 82games.com).

Center

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    Chris Bosh, C: B

    Bosh scored 10 points on 4-of-6 shooting in the first half, which was an encouraging sign. But he also hauled in just one rebound through two quarters, even though Miami dominated on the glass early.

    Bosh finished with 14 points (on 6-of-12 shooting), three boards and a pair of blocks.

    The trials of playing at the 5 in Miami's small lineup may be wearing down Chris Bosh. In 11 games since the All-Star break, his shooting has declined to 46.5 percent from 55.5 pre-break.

    His scoring average is down by four full points to 13.6 per game, and his rebounds have also dipped by 2.2 per night.

    Perhaps he's just saving himself for the playoffs. 

Sixth Man

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    Ray Allen, SG: B

    Father time may be catching up with Ray Allen. We know he got game, but he's also 37 years old.

    He made only one field goal and totaled six points in almost 15 first-half minutes. He still finished with 12 points, though he was shut out in every other statistical category.

    In February, Allen shot just 38 percent from the field. Through six games in March, he's shooting only 27.6 percent from beyond the arc. At least he went 2-of-3 on Tuesday night.

    His career average from three-point range is 40.1 percent, and he posted a career-best 45.3 percent last season for the Boston Celtics. But Allen only had to play in 46 regular-season games last year.  

Rest of Bench

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    Rest of Bench: B-

    Overall, Miami's bench was outscored 37 to 26. But the Heat did receive some key contributions from their reserves. 

    Shane Battier struggled in the first half, missing both his field-goal attempts and finishing the second quarter with two points and a team-low rating of minus-11. He redeemed that stat in the second half, and notched four boards, two assists and a steal.

    Chris Andersen took flight in the second quarter, throwing down a sweet reverse alley-oopThe Birdman will only score a few points per game, but he brings tremendous energy on defense (he had two steals and a block on Tuesday) and can rack up the rebounds.

    Andersen has played about 15 minutes per game for the last three weeks and provides valuable depth in Miami's frontcourt.

    Norris Cole played eight minutes in the first half and failed to score a point. He did grab a pair of rebounds in the early going. Cole finished with two points, but he also had four of Miami's 27 assists. 

    Joel Anthony, Rashard Lewis, Mike Miller and James Jones saw some minutes in the fourth quarter as the game became a blowout. Anthony managed to score six points in a row at one stage.

    The Heat will carry their 19-game winning streak into the Wells Fargo Center on Wednesday night as they go for 20 against the Philadelphia 76ers.

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