GAME PREVIEW: Heat travel to Atlanta against the Hawks for final road regular season game

Nikola Jovic was one of the best players on the floor in the last loss in Indiana, finishing with 18 points. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)

Game story:

Sunday afternoon featured the most crucial loss of the entire season for the Miami Heat. They fell to the Indiana Pacers 117-115, ultimately crushing Miami’s last hopes of avoiding the play-in tournament and attaining that sixth seed. The Heat fell to 43-35 on the season and even dropped to the eighth seed, .5 games behind the seventh seed Philadelphia 76ers.

Although the play-in is looking like the reality for a second season in a row, the Heat are still ready to lock in for the best time of the year in the NBA. Jimmy Butler spoke to the media about this following Sunday’s loss:

“If we end up in the play-in, we end up in the play-in… we’ve never made it easy, why make it easy now?”

Butler registered 27 points, 8 assists and 7 rebounds to help lead the team, but ultimately they fell short in the final seconds. The NBA’s officiating report showed there was a few wrong calls by Scott Foster and the staff that were in the Pacers advantage.

Nonetheless, Miami will still try to finish the season off strong and get into a rhythm in time for another potential playoff run. Tonight they will face their final regular season road game in Atlanta against the Hawks. Atlanta is 36-42 on the season and sitting at the tenth seed in the East. Both the Heat and Hawks are 6-4 in their last 10 games.

However, the Hawks are without the services of Trae Young. This should put a lot of the scouting report attention over to Dejounte Murray, who handed the Heat a devastating loss in the final seconds in Miami with a clutch 3-pointer the last time these two teams played each other.

The Heat will be without Duncan Robinson again, who was downgraded to OUT late last night. Robinson just hasn’t looked even nearly the same as before his left facet back injury took place a few weeks ago. His status and timeline to return is yet to be known, but it would make sense if he gets shut down during these final four regular season games.

Terry Rozier, who attempted to play through neck spasms against the Pacers, is listed as questionable tonight. The Heat being fully healthy did not last long, as a few other players wound up on the injury report as probable with minor nagging injuries.

It will be important for coach Erik Spoelstra to find some continuity for a playoff rotation during this last stretch of games.

Injury Report (at the time of this publishing):

Miami Heat:

  • Kevin Love (ankle) — PROBABLE
  • Bam Adebayo (hand) — PROBABLE
  • Nikola Jovic (ankle) — PROBABLE
  • Orlando Robinson (back) — PROBABLE
  • Terry Rozier (neck) — QUESTIONABLE
  • Duncan Robinson (facet/back) — OUT

Atlanta Hawks:

  • Trae Young (finger) — OUT
  • Saddiq Bey (ACL) — OUT
  • AJ Griffin (ankle) — OUT
  • Seth Lundy (ankle) — OUT
  • Onyeka Okongwu (toe) — OUT

Projected Starting 5 (subject to change):

Miami Heat:

  • Tyler Herro, G
  • Caleb Martin, G
  • Jimmy Butler, F
  • Nikola Jovic, F
  • Bam Adebayo, C

Atlanta Hawks:

  • Dejounte Murray, G
  • Bogdan Bogdanovic, G
  • Deandre Hunter, F
  • Jalen Johnson, F
  • Clint Capela, C

Betting Lines:

  • Check the current odds out at FanDuel!

Broadcast Info:

  • Tipoff: 7:30 PM EST
  • TV: Bally Sports Sun (Eric Reid, John Crotty)
  • Radio: AM 560 Sports WQAM & The HEAT Radio Network (Jason Jackson)
  • Spanish Radio: WAQI 710 AM & The HEAT Spanish Radio Network (José Pañeda)

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Reality Czech

No Rozier. And we are hoping to see the game while on vacay in Sarasota today with more Florida stops over the next week.


At this point, it is no longer about seeding. It is about finishing strong and getting everyone healthy and on the same page.

Rozier, Herro, Bam and Butler are a very good starting four. It’s now just a matter of firming up the #5 starter and the next 3-4 rotation players. With Duncan out, that should be a little easier for Spo and coaches to decide.

  • Martin is the safe bet because of his playoff experience
  • Highsmith is the defensive bet (filling the PJ Tucker role)
  • Jovic is the risky bet (because of his youth and inexperience in a playoff setting). There would be much less pressure on him coming off the bench.
  • Love is a definite rotation player (backing up Bam) because of his playoff experience, rebounding, playmaking and three point threat.
  • If Duncan is healthy, he also must be considered as a rotation player, because of his playoff experience and three point threat.
  • I can see Jaquez, Bryant, and Wright getting spot minutes, under the right circumstances. If any of them is productive, I can see them getting more minutes or being elevated to full rotation status, replacing a non-productive player.

It should get very interesting, very fast. I am very intersted in seeing the Heat’s top four players (Bam, Butler, Herro and Rozier) playing together as a starting unit for the first time. The ball handling and assists have the potential to be outstanding.


If we come back and have a good post season it will be about the same amount as incredible as last season. I mean, right at this moment last year all of us felt exactly like we do this year about our chances, except for that tiny smidgeon of hope we have because we know what happened last year. But, it just illustrates how incredible last season was.

heat for life

only diff this year 30 jimmy doesnt seem to have legs anymore its called the father time disease.w/o ss jim not going to far


True. But, I’m being optimistic for the group.

Reality Czech

No worries. Yesterday he said we could beat anyone in the east. Can’t have him be too positive, it’ll ruin his image.


A game that’s a lot less important after two let downs in near must wins. Miami without significant help, is in the play in game. Does the 7 or 8 seed really matter given the struggles at home (or in general)?


It depends on who we play. If it’s #7 Philly with Embiid and Harris in Philly, not so good. If it’s #7 Indy, different story. By winning the first play-in game, we have a much better chance of winning the first round against the #2 seed (Bucks, Magic, Knicks or Cavs) than vs #1 seed Boston. None of the current #2-#5 seeds are playing very well. Plus, the second round would be against one of the other current #2-#5 seeds. With a little luck and a lot of good basketball, Miami could be in the Eastern Conference Finals again vs Boston. At that point, it may come down to which team is healthier, which team is hotter and which team wants it more.

 “You never know how strong you are, until being strong is your only choice.” — Bob Marley



Nice. I never heard that quote before. Was it said while he was dying?

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