Lebron James and the Miami Heat travel to play the Atlanta Hawks at Philips Arena in what should be an entertaining game on Monday. Last time these two teams played, Miami needed overtime to squeak by the Hawks on their home floor. Now, Atlanta gets their chance at redemption in the first contest between the two teams played outside of Miami.
However, this time the game will be a lot different than the tightly contested battle that ensued the last time they met. Al Horford was still healthy and recorded a double-double with 21 points and 11 rebounds to almost pull out the huge win, but he’s out for the rest of the season for the Hawks. The same could be said for the Heat, though, if Chris “Birdman” Andersen ends up not playing due to his knee injury that’s held him out of the last three games.
Andersen was one of the major reasons the Heat were able to get the win last time against Atlanta. In the game, he played 25 productive minutes, contributing 12 points, nine rebounds and two blocks off the bench in order for Miami to secure the victory. In fact, while he was on the court the Heat had a plus 12 scoring margin, which was the highest of any player on the team against the Hawks. Atlanta will definitely benefit from his absence if he can’t play in the game because right now the Hawks are weak down low and struggling to rebound the basketball.
However, the key to winning this game for the Hawks will be the play of Jeff Teague and Kyle Korver. Teague has hit a rough patch since the injury to his pick-and-roll partner Horford, but he’ll need to play one of his best games against the Heat if Atlanta wants any chance. He hasn’t recorded a double-double since the game in which Horford was injured, and will need to get a double-double or around that mark in order for the Hawks to pull out the huge win. When Teague plays well, the whole team plays well. If he can get around 20 points and eight assists this would increase Atlanta’s chances of winning dramatically.
Korver must get over his most recent performance against the Brooklyn Nets in London quickly. He went one for nine from the field and barely managed to keep his NBA record of consecutive games with at least one three-pointer going, when he hit a late three in garbage time. In order to beat Miami, he’ll need to have a big game from beyond the arc for the Hawks. If he can hit some threes this will not only get the team going, but the crowd as well, which is great for the Hawks. When the crowd gets going, the players really feed off of their energy and Atlanta plays so much better as evidenced by their 14-6 record on their home floor.
It’s never easy to beat the defending champions, but if Teague and Korver can provide big games, the Hawks definitely have a chance.