The Miami Heat, winners of three straight, will look to extend its recent dominance over the host Atlanta Hawks when they meet on Monday as part of the Martin Luther King Jr. Day festivities.
The holiday is especially important in Atlanta, the birthplace of Dr. King and the civil rights movement. The Hawks are 21-7 on MLK Day, second in wins to New York with 23. Miami is 7-9 on the holiday.
The Heat just won back-to-back games over the Milwaukee Bucks, including a 111-95 drubbing on Saturday. Atlanta swept a back-to-back on the road, finishing with a 114-103 win at Toronto on Saturday.
This will be the second of four regular-season meetings between the clubs. Miami won the first meeting 106-98 in Atlanta on Nov. 27, a game that ended the Hawks’ streak of scoring 100-plus points in 40 consecutive games. The Heat has won four of the last five against the Hawks. The final two meetings will be played in Miami and March 4 and 6.
Miami has won six of its last eight and is No. 7 in the Eastern Conference, 2 1/2 games ahead of No. 9 Atlanta.
“I feel like in this stretch we’ve been enjoying basketball,” Miami’s Bam Adebayo said. “You see it on the court. We’re way more connected than we’ve been since the beginning of the season.”
Adebayo leads the team with 21.5 points and 10.1 rebounds and has scored in double figures in all 39 games in which he has appeared and 55 straight dating back to last season.
Jimmy Butler is averaging 21.7 points, 6.5 rebounds and 5.2 assists. Gabe Vincent, who averages 9.4 points, scored 28 and 27 points in the two games against Milwaukee.
“What I do commend and what you want out of a team is growing from your experiences, particularly if you have some tough times, adversity,” Miami coach Erik Spoelstra said. “The grit that we’re developing is that even when there are some uneven times during the course of the game, we understand that it’s a long game. You have to work the game. You try to wear on teams, particularly defensively.”
Atlanta’s Trae Young and Dejounte Murray combined for 56 points, 15 assists and four steals. Young leads the team with 27.5 points and 8.7 rebounds and Murray averages 20.2 points and 4.8 assists.
“We played really well as a team, and me and Trae led the way,” Murray said. “I know it’s tough for us as individuals to find a rhythm and consistent winning streak, but one game at a time. (Toronto) was a good challenge for us versus a physical team and we got a great win. Now we’ve got to prepare for Monday.”
Young said, “We just want to continue to grow and get better, game by game. It’s not going to be great every night, but we’ll definitely have nights like this where we can control the game and take over when we need to.”
The Heat played without Tyler Herro (Achilles soreness), and Kyle Lowry (left knee discomfort) on Saturday. Atlanta was missing Bogdan Bogdanovic (left quad soreness) and Clint Capela (right thigh strain).
–Field Level Media