Any time you face off with the defending champions, it’s a big game. However, this time the spotlight is even brighter than usual. LeBron James is in the midst of the best stretch of play in his entire career and the Heat looked for all the world like they were destined to repeat when they demolished Oklahoma City on Thursday night.
Miami leads the league in offensive efficiency, scoring more than 110 points per 100 possessions, and the match-ups will dictate some big time disadvantages for Atlanta. Due to the roster make-up, the Hawks will be forced to use Josh Smith on LeBron for long stretches. This is the type of game where a healthy DeShawn Stevenson should see extended time on either D.Wade or James as well. Chris Bosh is actually a good match-up for Al Horford, but it would help if Big Al could win that face-off decisively to make up for the trouble elsewhere.
If LeBron plays at the same level that he has over the past month, it’s almost impossible to beat Miami. However, if they can slow him a bit and keep Wade in check, there’s hope. At any rate, this is going to be a fun watch.
Who?: Atlanta Hawks vs Miami Heat
What?: Josh Smith’s Finale? (Game #52, Home Game #27)
Where?: Philips Area (Atlanta, GA)
When?: Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2013 – 8:00 PM (EST)
How?: SportSouth HDTV / 680 AM & 93.7 FM
Projected Starting Lineups
PG: Jeff Teague | SG: DeShawn Stevenson | SF: Josh Smith | PF: Al Horford | C: Zaza Pachulia
PG: Mario Chalmers | SG: Dwyane Wade | SF: LeBron James | PF: Shane Battier | C: Chris Bosh
Injury/Inactive Players Report
Atlanta Hawks: Lou Williams (torn right ACL) is out.
Miami Heat: Udonis Haslem (leg contusion) is day-to-day.
Current Records/Streak & Hot, Lukewarm, or Cold
Records: Atlanta Hawks (29-22) … Miami Heat (36-14)
Streak: Atlanta Hawks –> OVERALL: Won 2 / HOME: Lost 1 / ROAD: Won 2 … Miami Heat –> OVERALL: Won 7 / HOME: Won 8 / ROAD: Won 2
Home/Away Records: Hawks are (17-9) at home … Heat are (13-11) away.
Atlanta Hawks: Lukewarm. The Hawks won two straight before the All-Star and three-of-four overall. However, with the constant trade talk surrounding Josh Smith, Atlanta definitely isn’t firing on all cylinders.
Miami Heat: Hot. Prior to the All-Star break, LeBron was having one of the best stretches in NBA history, scoring at least 30 points a game while shooting over 60 percent from the field. The Heat have won seven straight games overall.
Season/Past Season Series
The Heat come to Philips Arena for the second-and-final time this year in the third-of-four showdowns with the Hawks. Miami owns a 2-0 record against Atlanta so far, winning 95-86 at Philips Arena (11/9) and posting a 101-92 home decision on 12/10. Josh Smith is averaging 17.5 points in two games vs. Miami this year, while Jeff Teague is putting up 15.5 points and 7.0 assists (.556 FG%, .600 3FG%, 1.000 FT%), Al Horford 15.0 points and 9.0 rebounds (.565 FG%), and Anthony Morrow is chipping-in 11.5 points (.600 FG%, .667 3FG%, 1.000 FT%). LeBron James is averaging 24.0 points against the Hawks. The teams play again on 3/12 in Miami to finish the season series. The Heat currently own a five-game winning streak in the series and have taken six straight at Philips Arena. The Hawks’ last win was a 100-92 road triumph on 1/2/12, while their last home win came on 11/18/09 (105-90). The Heat lead the all-time series 53-40 with Atlanta holding a 27-19 advantage in home games.
LAST MEETING — HEAT 101, HAWKS 92 — AMERICANAIRLINES ARENA — 12/10/12
Atlanta trailed by just two (56-54) at halftime, despite Miami shooting .639 from the field. The back-and-forth first half featured 17 lead changes and eight ties. The Hawks reclaimed the advantage, 65-63, midway through the third, but the Heat answered with a 17-4 to run before settling for an 82-74 lead heading to the final stanza. Atlanta would get no closer than eight points the rest of the night. Josh Smith led the Hawks with 22 points (career-high-tying four three-pointers) and Al Horford notched his sixth straight double-double with 20 points and game-high 11 rebounds. DeShawn Stevenson scored 12, while Jeff Teague and Lou Williams tallied 11 points apiece. LeBron James put in a game-high 27 points for the Heat, Dwyane Wade scored 26, and Chris Bosh had a double-double (14 points/10 boards). Miami finished the game shooting .582 FG%, becoming the first team to hit .500 against Atlanta this year (the Hawks shot. .427). Atlanta hit 19-20 FTs for a season-best .950 from the charity stripe.
Udonis Haslem played for the Hawks summer league squad in 2002. Al Horford’s father Tito starred at University of Miami (1986-88). Miami assistant coach David Fizdale was on the Hawks’ coaching staff from 2004-08, and Heat assistant Ron Rothstein is also a former Hawks assistant and scout. Chris Bosh played at Georgia Tech in 2002-03. Mike Miller and DeShawn Stevenson were teammates with the Wizards for part of 2009-10. Johan Petro, Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis teamed up in Seattle from 2005-07.
Information was used from the Hawks and Heat official gamenotes