The Hawks Overpowered The Heat To Get The 7-Seed In The Eastern Conference

The Atlanta Hawks are officially in the 2023 NBA playoffs. Atlanta traveled to Miami on Tuesday night to take on the Heat with the 7-seed in the Eastern Conference on the line, and thanks to a gameplan that was heavily dependent on their ability to pummel their opponents on the glass, the Hawks picked up a 116-105 win.

Two things were crucial in Atlanta taking a 65-50 lead into the locker room at halftime. On one end of the floor, Miami’s offense could not play much worse. An 11-2 run at the end of the half helped make things look a little more respectable, but the Heat trailed by as many as 24 points, largely because they just couldn’t hit shots — the team shot 17-for-45 (37.8 percent) from the field and 4-for-15 (25 percent) from behind the three point line. If not for a throwback, 19-point first half by Kyle Lowry, things would have been bleak for Miami.

It didn’t help that, on the other end of the floor, Atlanta gobbled up offensive rebounds and got prolific scoring efforts off the bench. While the team was generally ok shooting the ball — 23-for-50 (46 percent) from the field, 8-for-25 (32 percent) from three — the Hawks got eight offensive boards, while the trio of Saddiq Bey, Onyeka Okongwu, and Bogdan Bogdanovic combined to score 31 points off of the bench. All of that, in addition to a 13-point, six-assist, six-rebound half from Trae Young, propelled them into the locker room with a double-digit lead.

Miami came out swinging at the start of the second half. The Heat opened up the frame with an 18-8 advantage to get within five points, and while the Hawks were able to get their lead back out to double-digits, Miami put itself into a position where the lead was within arm’s reach, a major turnaround from where it was earlier in the game. But thanks to a 6-0 run to end the frame, Atlanta was able to buy a little breathing room and take a 91-78 lead into the fourth.

The big push by the Heat came early on in the fourth, with Lowry leading the charge as the team was able to go on a 12-4 run to get the lead down to six. Unfortunately for them, a dunk by Bogdanovic and a triple by Dejounte Murray got things back to double-digits at the halfway mark of the quarter. And from that point on, the Hawks were able to keep their opponents at bay, as Miami never got within seven points for the remainder of the evening.

Young’s 25 points, eight rebounds, and seven assists led the way for Atlanta, while six other players scored in double-figures: Murray (18), Bey (17), Bogdanovic (14), Okongwu (12), John Collins (10), and Jalen Johnson (10). While Clint Capela only had four points, his 21 rebounds (eight offensive) were crucial in the Hawks’ 63-39 lead on the glass. Miami, meanwhile, was led by a season-high 33 points off the bench by Lowry, with Herro pitching in 26 and Butler stuffing the stat sheet with 21 points, nine assists, four rebounds, two steals, and a block.

With the win, Atlanta earned a matchup with the Boston Celtics in the opening round of the playoffs. The Celtics hold a 3-0 lead in the season series between the two teams. Game 1 of the series will tip off on Saturday at 3:30 p.m. EST from TD Garden on ESPN.

As for the Heat, they’ll now wait and see if they’ll play either the Toronto Raptors or the Chicago Bulls on Friday with the 8-seed on the line. The game will take place in Miami, and the winning team will take on the top seed in the East, the Milwaukee Bucks.