(1) heat against (8) hawks

The first level Miami Heat of the Eastern Conference and the eighth level Atlanta Hawks meet in the first round of the 2022 NBA Playoffs. Atlanta beat Charlotte Hornets and Cleveland Cavaliers in the play-offs.

More Yahoo Sports NBA First Round Playoff Previews:

(2) Boston vs Celtics (7) Brooklyn Nets

(3) Milwaukee Bucks vs. (6) Chicago Bulls

(4) Philadelphia 76ers vs. (5) Toronto Raptors

(1) Phoenix Suns vs. (8) New Orleans Pelicans

(2) Memphis Grizzlies vs. (7) Minnesota Timberwolves

(3) Golden State Warriors vs. (6) Denver Nuggets

(4) Dallas Mavericks vs. (5) Utah Jazz

How did they get here

Miami Heat (53-29)

The Heat reached the 2020 NBA Finals, losing the first round of the playoffs last year and reloading last season. Kyle Lori, P.J. Tucker and Marquee Morris, senior free-agent signatories Jimmy Butler and Pam Adebayo, added many layers of health to the established culture. Get ready for the fight against Miami.

Butler and Adebayo played like All-Stars when not battling illness or injury. Tyler Hero’s bounce-back season made him a favorite for the sixth Man of the Year award. Duncan Robinson overcame an early shooting slump in the final four months of the season, filming 40% of his nearly eight 3-point attempts per game. Lori settled into a complementary table-setting role, effectively scoring when asked to do so.

As always, the heat exchanger identified and created many gems from the wire, turning travelers Max Strauss, Cape Vincent and Caleb Martin into reliable cycle contributors. The result was 53 wins and a No. 1 spot in a deep Eastern conference, despite Butler and Adebayo losing a third of the season.

Atlanta Hawks (43-39)

The Hawks returned from the finals of the astonishing 2021 Eastern Conference, devoid of surprising inspiration. Even Atlanta star Trey Young admitted, “This is regular season. I’m not going to lie, it’s more boring than the playoffs.” Their 17-25 record at 12th place in the East in mid-January reflected that sentiment.

Young played brilliantly throughout, but the deep and talented list around him could not reach a chemical balance. The Hawks vacated space in the spin and traded Cam Redditch and Solomon Hill for a draft pick for the New York Knicks. Atlanta won seven games in a row and finished the second half of the season 26-14, the owners of the league’s third-ranked breach and the fifth-best net rating of that interval.

Young averaged 28-4-10 in 46/38/90 shooting splits and led the league in total points and assists. Bogdan Bogdanovic was the regular Sixth Man contender of the year and was one of only six hawks to have an average double-digit score, including center Clint Cabella. D’Andre Hunter was injured in another early season injury and John Collins in late season to finish ninth in the play-offs.

Atlanta once again found that seasonal inspiration, dominating Charlotte in the opening game of the play-off and beating a quality Cleveland team on the road to an eighth-place finish. Collins missed two games with an injury to his leg, and Cabala stretched his knee against the Cavaliers, which left both of them in doubt at the start of this first-round series against Miami. But hawks still have youth, depth and the opportunity to fight.

face to face

The Heat won their regular season series 3-1 with the Hawks.

Jan. to Miami Atlanta. On the 12th Butler defeated them by 24 points without Adebayo and then two days later, still beat them by six points without their center. Cabella missed both games. Another week later they played again, and the Hawks retaliated against Lori-Les Heat. Both teams were (near) full strength until their final meeting on April 8, and Miami needed 10-2 to win 113-109.

Two-thirds or fewer games were decided in four games, and the trio of Butler, Hero and Lori dominated the Young and Heliocentric Hawks in those games, finishing +18 at the clutch.

Caleb Martin was the Miami Heat’s best defensive choice against the Atlanta Hawks star Trey Young. (Kevin C. Cox / Getty Images)

Closing rows

Miami heat

Butler, Adebayo and Lori will close the games. Heat coach Eric Spolstra could play with the other two places. Tucker finished the games in the final for the Milwaukee Bucks last season. You can count on him. You want the hero out, but he can be the target in defense. Robinson and Strauss belong to the same genre. Martin and Vincent are great options for defense, but can you put your trust in them in stressful moments?

Atlanta Hawks

Young, Boktanovic, Hurter, Collins and Cabella dominated this season, beating their opponents by 101 points in 164 minutes. If Collins is not available, Hunter’s defense will be prioritized over Danilo Calinari’s offense, and Onega will replace Okongwu Kabela. That lineup played very little together, but the limited sample size was encouraging, and helped the Quintet Guards close.

Fit to see

Heat is packed with defenders, but showing speed to Lori Young at 36 is a tall order. Miami have successfully appointed Butler to the low point guard, but Martin has received frequent calls, meaning the third-year division will draw bright attention to his first playoff appearance.

Martin’s defense leaves little room for Hero, Miami’s most powerful offensive weapon. The Heat have been a below-average attacking team without Hero this season, and it is against a unit as strong as the Hawks. Sloaning Young is very important, however, as Spolstra can spend the entire series striking the perfect balance between his excellent defense and a goal-scoring offense with Atlanta.

That’s why Heat paid $ 85 million to Lori to stay competitive in the point-card battle in the playoffs, and if he could steal enough quality minutes against Young, Miami would have more flexibility to field his best line-up.

Miami Heat (-375)

Atlanta Hawks (+300)

Prediction

Heat to six.

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Ben Rohrbach is a staff writer at Yahoo Sports. Is there a tip? Email him at rohrbach_ben@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow brohrbach

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