Who?: Atlanta Hawks (3-1) vs. Miami Heat (5-0)
When?: January 2nd, 2012; 7:30 PM (Eastern Time)
Where?: American Airlines Arena (Miami, FL)
How?: SportSouth HD(TV) & 680 The Fan (93. 7 radio)
PG: Mario Chalmers | SG: Dwyane Wade | C: Joel Anthony | PF: Chris Bosh | SF: LeBron James
PG: Jeff Teague | SG: Joe Johnson | C: Al Horford | PF: Josh Smith | SF: Marvin Williams
Miami: Both Eddy Curry (hip flexor) and Mike Miller (hernia surgery) are both out.
Atlanta: Kirk Hinrich (left shoulder surgery) is out.
Records: The MIA Heat are (5-0) and the ATL Hawks are (3-1).
Streak: Heat are on a 5 game winning streak. Hawks are on a 1 game losing streak.
Away/Home: The Heat are (2-0) at home, and the Atlanta Hawks are (1-1) on the road.
The Hawks are coming off a road loss against the Houston Rockets on Dec. 31st. People measured where the Hawks are as far as elite teams based on that game, but I think tonight’s game will give us the best measure (yet) at where the Hawks stand.
The undefeated Miami Heat, are one of the two undefeated teams this season (OKC Thunder being the other one). If the Hawks can win this game in a convincing manner or at least lose in a hard fought battle, maybe the Hawks truly are one of the elite teams this season like some fans believe. If they get blown out, maybe this team really is what they are, a good team that will always make the playoffs but will not compete for an NBA title.
There’s no excuses for either team. Fatigue won’t be playing a factor to tonight’s game. The Hawks had the New Year off (hopefully they didn’t party too hard/much) and the Miami Heat had no starters play more than 30 minutes during their blowout win last night vs. the Charlotte Bobcats.
This game will be the first of the four meetings the Heat and the Hawks will have this season. The Heat took last season’s series 3-1.
3 Things To Watch For:
- Jeff Teague’s aggressiveness. Teague was passive during the New Year’s Eve game vs. the Rockets. No offense to Mario Chalmers or Norris Cole, but they’re no Deron Williams, John Wall, or even Kyle Lowry. Teague should be able to win the Point Guard match-up if he’s aggressive.
- Josh Smith’s decision making. The boneheaded decisions Josh Smith made vs. the Rockets can’t happen tonight. This game is already hard as it is, Smith needs to play smart and make the right decisions on the offensive end if he wants his team to compete against the Heat tonight.
- Joe Johnson. He’s a player to watch out for tonight. Hawks need him to play and compete at both ends of the floor tonight. He’s the only on this team that can defend a guard like Dwyane Wade. Willie Green is too small, Jeff Teague is too small, Josh Smith is too slow, Marvin Williams is too slow, and Tracy McGrady is too weak to guard Wade. Joe is quick enough and big enough to guard Wade effectively. Defense is only half of what Joe needs to do tonight though. He needs to play big on offense too. Wade is a great defender, so I can’t expect Joe to go for 40 tonight, but a 20 point game is a must.