In the first game of the NBA Play-In Tournament, the Atlanta Hawks held off the Miami Heat to secure the No. 7 seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs. The final score was 116-105 in favor of the Hawks, who were led by Trae Young’s 25 points. The victory sets up a first-round matchup against the Boston Celtics, which will start on Saturday.
Hawks’ Reserves Make an Impact
Although Young had a solid performance, it was the play of the Hawks’ bench that proved crucial. Four reserves—Saddiq Bey, Bogdan Bogdanovic, Onyeka Okongwu, and Jalen Johnson—combined for 53 points. This allowed the Hawks to build a commanding lead in the first half, which they were able to hold onto despite Miami’s second-half surge.
Miami’s Kyle Lowry had his highest-scoring game of the season with 33 points, while Tyler Herro finished with 26. However, the duo’s efforts were not enough to overcome the Hawks’ balanced attack. The Heat will have another chance to make the playoffs, as they will host the winner of the Toronto Raptors and Chicago Bulls matchup on Thursday night.
One of the keys to the Hawks’ victory was their dominance on the boards. They outrebounded the Heat 63-39, including 22-6 on the offensive glass, which led to a 26-6 advantage in second-chance points.
The Hawks did an excellent job of taking care of the basketball as well. They committed only nine turnovers compared to Miami’s 15, and they were able to turn those turnovers into 16 points. This ability to capitalize on Miami’s mistakes was another big factor in the Hawks’ victory.
Spoelstra’s Defensive Gameplan Comes Up Short
Miami head coach Erik Spoelstra was unable to come up with an effective defensive gameplan to stop the Hawks. Young was able to find success on the offensive end, despite shooting just 8-of-18 from the field and missing all four of his three-point attempts. The Hawks’ bench also proved to be too much for the Heat to handle.
With their victory over the Heat, the Hawks will head into the playoffs with momentum on their side. They will need to continue to play at a high level if they hope to make a deep run in the playoffs. The first step will be taking on the Boston Celtics in the first round, a team that they will be facing for the first time this season.