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Hot-shooting Heat take aim at Hawks

Sportsnaut
Jan 5, 2022; Portland, Oregon, USA; Miami Heat guard Tyler Herro (14) is called for an offensive foul during the second half against the Portland Trail Blazers at Moda Center. The Heat won the game 115-109. Mandatory Credit: Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 5, 2022; Portland, Oregon, USA; Miami Heat guard Tyler Herro (14) is called for an offensive foul during the second half against the Portland Trail Blazers at Moda Center. The Heat won the game 115-109. Mandatory Credit: Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

The Miami Heat look to extend their winning streak to three games Tuesday when they complete a seven-game road trip, facing the struggling Hawks in Atlanta.

Miami already has played 24 road games this season, tied with Charlotte and Orlando for the most in the NBA. The Heat are 13-11 away from home and are coming off Saturday’s 123-100 win at Phoenix, which was tied for the most wins in the league.

This will be the first meeting of the season between the Southeast Division rivals, who play each other three times over the next nine days. They have a return matchup at Miami on Friday and play again in Atlanta on Jan. 21. Last season, the Hawks won the season series 2-1.

The Heat tied their franchise record of 22 3-pointers against the Suns. Duncan Robinson knocked down eight of them in scoring 27 points, while Tyler Herro scored 33.

Herro has 497 points off the bench, the most by any Miami reserve through their first 24 games to start a season in team history. He leads the NBA with 20.7 points per game when he is in a reserve role.

“We’ve got a lot of guys who can really shoot,” Robinson said. “Sometimes shooting is contagious as well. Certainly ball movement is contagious. Ball’s finding energy. Ball’s finding the open guy.”

Atlanta has struggled to maintain a healthy roster, through both COVID-19 issues and injuries. Center Clint Capela missed Sunday’s 106-93 road loss against the Los Angeles Clippers with an ankle injury and exposed the team’s lack of depth inside. Key reserve Cam Reddish left Sunday’s game in the first quarter with a sprained ankle and is questionable.

Atlanta went 2-4 on its road trip that concluded with four games on the West Coast. The Hawks have dropped 10 of their last 14, falling five games under .500.

“You know, no one’s going to feel sorry for us,” said Atlanta’s Chris Jent, the interim coach while Nate McMillan is in COVID protocol. “There’s a lot of stuff going on, things that we cannot control.

“All we can control is our effort, our communication, our togetherness, running the floor no matter who’s out there. It’s unprecedented. It’s been very bizarre, but we have to persevere. It’s different times and we have to find a way to regroup.”

Atlanta veteran Bogdan Bogdanovic said the team needs to take a long look in the mirror.

“We are playing bad right now,” Bogdanovic said. “We cannot say we are a good team right now because we are not. Simple as that.”

The Hawks have leaned heavily on guard Trae Young, who scored 19 points against the Clippers on Sunday, as his franchise-record streak of scoring 25-plus points ended 17. He averages 28.0 points and 9.6 assists.

The Hawks can take solace the defensive improvement shown Sunday after allowing at least 130 points in four consecutive losses.

“I thought overall our defense was good,” Jent said. “The transition defense, when can keep people out of transition, we give ourselves a chance. We didn’t give (the Clippers) a fast-break basket in the first half. Now they were hot on 3-pointers, but we gave ourselves a chance.”

–Field Level Media