Miami Heat: Tonight's Game Against Hawks a Must-Win?

Andrew Robeson@SportswriterguyAnalyst IIApril 22, 2009

ATLANTA - APRIL 19:  Dwyane Wade #3 of the Miami Heat scores past Josh Smith #5 of the Atlanta Hawks during Game One of the First Round of the Eastern Conference Playoffs at Philips Arena on April 19, 2009 in Atlanta, Georgia.  The Hawks defeated the Heat 90-64. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Doug Benc/Getty Images)

In game one of the Heat-Hawks series, the Heat not only managed to lose, they managed to give up.

As a fan, it's one thing to see your team losing. It's another thing to see them look hopeless.

Tonight would not be a must-win if the Heat had been able to keep their composure and be competitive with the Hawks. But it became a must-win as a national audience watched them meltdown.

Wednesday night's game is a must win for the following reasons.

1. The Heat need to regain confidence in themselves. If they are not confident, they have no shot at winning this series.

2. The Heat need to be able to rely on the energy of their home crowd when they return to Miami. Another lackluster performance Wednesday will convince many fans to stay home when the Heat head back to the American Airlines Arena.

3. The Heat have to win at least one game in Atlanta to win this series. Last year's championship team, the Celtics, could not manage that. If Atlanta wins tonight, it is unlikely they will lose in Atlanta this series.

For these reasons, the Heat must win tonight's game. The Heat do not want to be playing a Game 5 of a Game 7 in the intense atmosphere of the Philips Arena.

For the Heat to win tonight, a few things must occur.

1. Dwyane Wade must cut down on his turnovers. If he cuts down on his turnovers, it will not allow Atlanta to get easy points. Wade had a solid first quarter but then proceeded to flounder as Joe Johnson and others hounded him.

2. The Heat need a point guard to step up. This has been a problem all season long. Hopefully Chalmers finds his magic touch. If he continues to struggle, throw Chris Quinn into the fire. It may be worth the risk.

3. Draw up plays for Beasley. Take some off the pressure off Wade and show the Hawks we have another threat. The main problem in our loss was that once the Hawks realized no one could score but Wade, they began to double-team him.

4. Erik Spoelstra needs to change his game strategy. He looked like another run of the mill coach as the Heat got thrashed by the Hawks. You can not expect to not change your game plan against a team that beat you three out of four times and suddenly see different results. Hopefully Pat Riley got in his ear and gave him some helpful advice.

I hope the Heat can pull out a win tonight. Otherwise we might be making another early exit.


The latest in the sports world, emailed daily.