May 2, 2009
Miami managed to batter the Hawks 98-72 at home and force Game Seven, which will be played back in Atlanta on Saturday.
In the process, the Heat learned how important patience, leadership, and the home-court advantage are.
Led by Dwyane Wade, Miami's defense held Joe Johnson to 13 points and no made free throws while the Heat frustrated wings Josh Smith and Maurice Evans into committing technical fouls.
The third quarter proved decisive.
Miami outscored Atlanta 27-13 after outproducing the Hawks 32-18 in the first quarter. It was also the second time the Heat were able to score 10 more points than the Hawks in at least two quarters this series.
Here are the keys for the Heat heading into Game Seven:
Get Wade Off To A Hot Start:
Wade had 12 touches in the first quarter in Game Six and had scored 19 points by half on only four shots. He connected on his first field goal, a pair of free-throws, and his first two three-point shots of the second half.
In the fourth quarter, Wade again converted on his first field goal and first three-point attempts then pinned Maurice Evans' layup to the glass.
Minutes later he slithered through an attempted Atlanta trap and dunked over Zaza Pachulia while being fouled. That sent him pogo-sticking into the crowd.
Moments later he lifted a floater over Joe Johnson that sailed into the hoop en route to an and-one.
Wade finished with 43 points on a miraculous 11 shots. He showed no effects of the back spasms that have supposedly been hampering his movement during the series.
Attack Joe Johnson To Coax Him Into Foul Trouble:
Johnson picked up two early fouls and Coach Mike Woodson presented him with a seat on the bench.
The Heat executed a 14-2 run in Johnson's absence and never looked back.
The Heat also held Johnson without a point in the third and found real success in forcing Johnson to play to his opposite by sending two defenders his way and by allowing Johnson to make the next move for them.
Simply put, if Joe Johnson isn't on the floor the Hawks will lose their only player who can create his own shot, and they will be diminished on both ends of the floor.
If the Heat can continue this strategy, it will limit Atlanta's offensive production and disrupt their offensive tempo, which would be huge.
Timely Contributions From Joel Anthony:
After playing only 31 minutes in the first five games of the series, Anthony logged 35 minutes in Game Six and had six points, eight rebounds, and three blocks.
On offense, Anthony flattened Maurice Evans in the third quarter on a screen.
On the Hawks' ensuing possession he had his third block of the game. Anthony also continued to be a force in the paint. He had seven points by the third and made all three of his field-goal attempts.
The Heat need all the production they can get from any player not with the last name Wade, so if Anthony can match his Game Six production in Game Seven it will be a major plus for the road team.
Will The Rookies Continue To Play Like Veterans?:
In the Third Quarter, Mario Chalmers delivered a crossover en route to a wonderful under-the-basket scoop layup and then No. 2-overall pick Michael Beasley punished the smaller Maurice Evans who was inserted at the four spot for Atlanta. At one point Beasley scored eight Miami points during an 11-5 run that pushed the lead to 24 late in the third quarter.
Beasley finished with an all-star-like 22 points and 15 rebounds, and second-round pick Chalmers contributed nine points, eight assists, and five steals. With output like this, the Heat will be less reliant on immense production from D-Wade.
Jamaal Magloire Playing The Bigger Man:
After attempting to snare a rebound in the fourth, Josh Smith shoved Jamaal Magloire and openly challenged him to a fight.
As physical as this series has been, Magloire obviously was the wiser of the two. He walked away and shook his head, and moments later Josh Smith was so inconsolable that he picked up a technical foul for barking at the referees. Being a nine-year veteran and seven years Smith's senior, Magloire correctly handled the situation.
Magloire understood that the Heat were already in dire need of size with Jermaine O'Neal aching and having missed Game Six. They were also without Jamario Moon at the forward position. Miami could not afford to be without Magloire's 6'10" body in one of the biggest games in Heat history.
James Jones, Joel Anthony, and Jamaal Magloire:
This trio of Heat role players drew a combined four offensive fouls and combined to score 19 points and grab 17 rebounds. The three grabbed more rebounds than all six Atlanta bench players combined.
But they failed to get to the line.
If Miami is to have any chance in Game Seven, the bench players must learn to be more aggressive and less reliant on the jump shot.
The series between the two teams concludes with Game Seven Saturday in Atlanta at Philips Arena.
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