Southeast Division rivals will square off on Sunday evening when the Miami Heat travel to take on the Atlanta Hawks.
The Heat are 20-7, which gives them a two-game lead over the 18-9 Hawks. Both teams are comfortable in the playoffs, with the Miami currently holding the No. 2 seed and Atlanta at No. 4.
The two teams have split two games this year, with the road team claiming each contest.
Where: Phillips Arena. Atlanta, Ga.
When: Sunday, Feb. 12 at 7 p.m. EST
Televised nationally on ESPN. Streamed live online at ESPN3.
Miami: Sun Sports
Miami: WAXY 790, WQBA 1140 AM
Atlanta: 680 The Fan
Heat (-4.5), according to Sportsbook
While I do believe the Heat will win this game, I don't like that number. Atlanta has already beaten Miami once this year and lost a game in overtime. In a pick 'em game, go with the Heat. But getting five points at home, take the Hawks.
Per USA Today:
Miami has no injuries to report.
Hawks C Jason Collins and F Al Horford are out.
What They're Saying
Joseph Goodman of the Miami Herald noted that the Heat have a potential problem on defense, as teams can shoot three-pointers relatively easily on them.
The New York Knicks attempted 43 three-pointers against the Heat on Jan. 27. On Wednesday, the Magic launched 42 attempts from behind the arc.
Taken separately, it speaks to the Knicks’ and Magic’s reliance on the three-point shot. Together, it’s the preliminary evidence of a developing trend: The Heat’s brand of defense is an inviting target for three-point happy teams.
Skeptics wondered if the Hawks could do it while missing a player who produced in so many areas at a position where they are thin. The Hawks ran off three consecutive victories in the wake of Horford’s injury, but they came at home against lackluster competition.
Then the Hawks defeated Portland, a quality West team, but that was at Philips Arena. Road losses at Philadelphia and San Antonio raised questions about the Hawks’ ability to beat better teams. Three consecutive home losses to Memphis, Philadelphia and Phoenix put the Hawks’ season in crisis for the first time.
That gives the Hawks and their fans reason to believe, as they are at home and against a quality opponent.
Most Important Player to Watch
While he's not the best player in the game, no player is as important in this one as Jeff Teague of the Hawks. As was noted above, the Heat are vulnerable against three-point shots, and Teague shoots at nearly 45 percent from behind the arc.
If the Heat bottle him up, it won't be a problem. But if Teague gets open and takes shots from downtown, an upset is quite possible.
Chris Bosh vs. Josh Smith
They may or may not end up guarding each other, but the points here are going to be important. Smith will need to outperform Bosh in this one. If not, Miami's talent on the perimeter will be too much to handle.
Prediction: Heat 94, Hawks 91
Again, this will be close, but the Heat just have more of a complete team in this one. Down the stretch, they will make the key shots needed to pull the tough road win out.