Atlanta Hawks at Miami HEAT Game Preview
Photo Credit: Issac Baldizon
The Miami HEAT host the Atlanta Hawks Friday night at AmericanAirlines Arena. Get your tickets now! Tip-off is set for 8:00 PM, and television coverage is on FOX Sports Sun. You can also listen to the action live on 790 The Ticket. The game is presented by Miami Cancer Institute at Baptist Health South Florida.
1: What jumped out to you about Miami’s offensive explosion on Wednesday night?
Couper Moorhead: We have to pump the brakes right off the bat and note that there wasn’t exactly regular season defense being played. That being said the HEAT’s offense was exceptionally efficient, and perhaps even more importantly they got off 42 threes. Everyone had a at least a few moments to shine, but Josh Richardson (20 points in the first half) and Bam Adebayo (15 points in the third quarter) clearly stood out. In Richardson’s second game of the preseason he displayed a greater ability to take threes off the dribble – a crucial improvement in this day and age – and looked as comfortable as ever shouldering the bulk of the offense while on the floor. Adebayo, on the other had, was all over the place, getting his hands in passing lanes, taking the ball full-court, taking jumpers and protecting the rim. What you want to see from young players this time of year is simply the fruits of their labor translating to the court, and that’s exactly what we saw Wednesday night.
Joe Beguiristain: Everything.
Seriously though, Bam Adebayo, Derrick Jones Jr. and Josh Richardson had great performances in what turned out to be a record-setting night against the Pelicans. And since Coup already discussed Adebayo (who went bonkers in the third quarter) and Richardson (who was ultra aggressive from the get-go), I’ll run through Jones Jr..
While most people will remember his rim-rocking jams on Wednesday (and rightfully so), he also came to play on the defensive end. In fact, the 21-year-old recorded six contested shots, four steals, a deflection and a drawn charge where he put his body on the line in defensive transition. As a result, the HEAT outscored the Pelicans by 23 points with Jones Jr. on the floor.
“I think the thing with him is going to be just consistency of bringing that kind of energy every night,” Dwyane Wade said about Jones Jr.. “Some nights it’s going to end up with him having 19 or 21 and three dunks, and then some nights he’s going to end up having two points. But how can he affect the basketball game with his athleticism [and] with his ability to give us extra possessions?”
2: Is there anything left to accomplish this preseason?
Couper: There are still some players that would be nice to see on the court, but at this point everyone seems just about ready for the regular season to begin. The team hasn’t announced anything but we would imagine a few more players will get a chance to rest, or at least play reduced minutes. Were this a group that hadn’t played together you might value every opportunity they get to get used to being on the court, but everyone knows everyone. There’s one more game to give players opportunities, like Richardson leading the offense Wednesday night with a number of veterans sitting, and then it’s time to get going.
Joe: Not necessarily.
It would have been cool to see Wayne Ellington get some burn in the preseason (as of this writing, he’s still listed as doubtful for Friday with left ankle soreness), but it’s not like he doesn’t know the system already. And while it may take a little bit of time for Ellington to get his legs under him like it did with Richardson, it shouldn’t be that big a deal since his conditioning is world class.
So with one more game on the docket before things get real, I just hope the team continues to build its identity.
3: What are you looking forward to seeing from the Hawks Friday night?
Couper: After Trae Young pulled up from beyond 30 feet for a game-winner the other night, how can your answer be anything but him? Your first look at a talented rookie is always fun and Young looks like he might be as fun as any in recent memory. But before you think he’s all about scoring, do note that Young is also an exceptional passer and once we get to the regular season his pick-and-roll chemistry with John Collins will certainly be something the HEAT will scout out and pick apart ahead of time. And Friday night, Miami gets another opportunity to test out their defense against a guard who will shoot from anywhere – reps that are as valuable as any these days.
Joe: In addition to Trae Young for all the reasons Coup mentioned above, I’m also looking forward to seeing Taurean Prince. The 24-year-old forward started all 82 games for the Hawks last season and really emerged as the team’s leader after the All-Star Break. And although Prince can get to the basket quite well, he also has the ability to light it up from distance. That type of all-around play has been on full display during the preseason, as the former Baylor Bear is averaging 15.3 points on 64 percent shooting, 6.0 rebounds and 2.0 assists per contest.
It should be fun to see how Miami’s slew of defenders handle both Prince and Young throughout the night.
- Justise Winslow (Rest) – Out
- Wayne Ellington (Left Ankle Soreness) – Out
- James Johnson (Sports Hernia Surgery) – Out
- Dion Waiters (Left Ankle Surgery) – Out