On Monday night, the Atlanta Hawks blew a great opportunity to get an important monkey off their back against the Miami Heat. The Hawks blew a seven-point, fourth quarter lead to allow the Heat to take the game into overtime and win it 121-119. Atlanta has now lost nine straight to Miami, and a win would have been a significant moral victory and huge confidence booster for a team looking to take the next step.
The Hawks have not made a deep playoff run since moving to Atlanta in 1968, with no more than one series win in any of their postseason appearances. A victory in Miami over the reigning champs could have lifted this team, but they fell just short due to a few late mistakes and a monster game from LeBron James.
James did what MVPs do, which is whatever the team needs. With Dwyane Wade taking a day of rest, James completely took over, hitting 16-of-28 shots for 38 points, adding eight boards, six assists, two steals, with no turnovers. James’ 28 shots were seven more than his previous season high and 17 more than anyone else on the team. In a very narrow victory, the Heat needed every bit of King James’ stellar performance to continue the team’s dominance over the Hawks.
Atlanta will have two more chances to take down Miami this season, and both games will be at home. They need to end their losing streak to the Heat before the postseason comes around. The Eastern Conference is very weak, and right now, it looks like nobody outside of the Indiana Pacers are even close to capable of beating the Heat.
There is a good chance the Eastern Conference will go through Miami, and the Hawks need to prove to themselves that they can beat them. Atlanta is a solid team with all the pieces to beat the best in the league, but on Monday, they didn’t seem to have the confidence needed to finish strong.