With their 13-point loss at home last night to the Oklahoma City Thunder, the Heat (7-3) dropped from 2nd overall in the Eastern Conference and in the Southeast Division.
The Atlanta Hawks (9-2) have a one game lead on the Boston Celtics, Cleveland Cavaliers, and Orlando Magic for the top spot in the East. A win against the Heat would give the Hawks a 2.5 game lead over the Heat.
Even though the Heat have yet to give up back-to-back losses this season, the Hawks still have a good shot at becoming the first team to do so.
After loosing to the Phoenix Suns by eight points on November 3rd, the Heat just barely got past the Wizards the following night 93-89. A little over a week later, the Cavaliers came to Miami and won 111-104. Two days later, the New Jersey Nets turned up the heat on Miami and came within one point of getting their first win of the season and giving Miami their first back-to-back loss.
The Heat, however, have not lost a road game this season. Of course, they have only played two away games so far. Their first road win of the season came in just their second game, a 13-point victory over the Indiana Pacers. Their second win on the road was their four-point win over Washington after suffering the first loss of the season to the Suns.
Another positive note for the Hawks, they are 5-0 at home this season where they are averaging 113 points per game and winning by an average of 14.8 points per game.
In the Heat’s game last night against the Thunder, Dwayne Wade shot just 6-for-19 from the field, including 1-of-4 from the 3-point land. As a team, the Heat shot just 5-of-18 from downtown and only 20-of-30 from the charity stripe. They also committed 15 turnovers.
The Heat had trouble containing Oklahoma City’s Kevin Durant. Durant finished with 32 points, nine rebounds, and five assists in 39 minutes of action. He shot 11-of-23 from the field, but was money from the free-throw line. He went 9 for 9 to lead the Thunder who shot 21-of-22 from the foul line.
Johnson and the Hawks are coming off a four point victory at home against the Portland Trailblazers, getting the season series-sweep.
It’s a good sign that the Heat could not contain Durant, especially since Johnson is coming off a huge 35-point (18 in the fourth quarter and overtime) night. However, these two teams are division rivals, so the Heat probably knows how to guard Johnson better than Portland did.
Johnson is not the only Hawk who is coming off of a big game. Josh Smith finished with 20 points on 8-of-14 shooting and pulled down 16 rebounds. The Trailblazers just had eight offensive rebounds in the game.
Tonight’s game should add another exciting chapter to this is Southeast Division rivalry. Even if the Hawks were to lose, they would still share a tie for the top spot in the East.
Orlando will host the Thunder tonight, Cleveland plays at Washington, and the Golden State Warriors play the Celtics in Boston.