The Hawks needed to come out strong but they fell way behind in the second quarter and lost to the Heat 117-109 on Saturday in Miami.
Here are five observations.
1. Despite cutting the lead to 99-94 with 7:05 left in the game, the Hawks could not get over the hump when both Bam Adebayo and Jimmy Butler returned to the Heat’s rotation. The two helped open things up for Caleb Martin and Tyler Herro to knock down timely 3-pointers that kept the game out reach.
Even with the timely shots from Herro and Martin, Adebayo powered them down the stretch with a jumper and layup that kept the Heat ahead by seven. Then Butler drew an and-one on a driving layup to the basket that gave the Heat a 113-103 lead with 3:06 left in the game.
Adebayo scored 30 points on 10-of-12 shooting from the floor and made 10 of his 12 free-throw attempts. He also had 11 rebounds and five assists.
New Hawks coach Quin Snyder said that moving forward, the team will need shift over to defend sooner, as well as have more active hands. He added that it would take a collective effort to slow guys like the two of them down.
“There’s no one matchup that’s gonna accomplish that,” he said and added that they would continue to work on that.
2. After trailing by as much as 21 during the third quarter, the Hawks ended the frame on a 10-2 run that cut the lead to 12 as the second unit found their footing. Then the Hawks continued to make their push to cut the lead to 87-78 off a 3-pointer from Saddiq Bey.
The 23-year-old scored 10 points in five minutes as he aggressively tried to cut through the Heat’s defense and take advantage of Butler being off the court.
Bey has continued to shoot well in his tenure with the Hawks and has knocked down 50% of his 4.7 attempts from 3 since he made his debut last month.
His performance on Saturday night, particularly early in the fourth quarter earned him minutes down the stretch as Snyder opted for him, while Hawks veteran John Collins remained on the bench with four fouls after 16 minutes.
Bey ended the night leading the team with 22 points, while pulling down three rebounds and two steals.
3. The Hawks looked out of sorts as they struggled to compete to match the physicality that the Heat threw at them. Early in the matchup, the Heat forced the Hawks into mistakes, scoring 12 points off the Hawks’ nine turnovers.
The Heat just wouldn’t let up despite falling to the Knicks on Friday. They outscored the Hawks 37-23 in the second quarter to stretch out their lead.
Snyder added that the team needed to be aggressive for all 48 minutes and make sure that it focuses on attacking the things they can control.
“We were too passive in situations where we were letting them dictate consistently,” Snyder said. “There’s things like ball pressure, or aggression on the boards. We had a couple of possessions where we crashed the offensive glass you got extra opportunities. And when you do that, all of a sudden, shots are start going in more. And they become really our shots.”
4. After a huge night from their backcourt on Friday, the Hawks’ tandem of Trae Young and Dejounte Murray had to find other ways to support their teammates with the shots not falling for them. The two combined for 5-of-27 shooting from the floor after torching the Trail Blazers at State Farm Arena the night before.
Young scored just eight points and Murray 10.
Despite the poor shooting night for the two, Snyder praised how they figured out how to navigate the Hawks through Saturday’s matchup.
“Those guys didn’t have their best night,” Snyder said. “But they were supportive of the other guys on the floor and picking them up and doing those things that (we needed).”
5. A win would have brought the Hawks a little closer to the Heat for the seventh spot in the East. The standings are still quite tenuous with teams still clawing their way through the final stretch of the regular season.
The Hawks will need to come out strong on Monday in a rematch to prevent a further slide in the race, with both the Raptors and Wizards very close behind.
Heat 117, Hawks 109
Stat to know
5 -- Trae Young tied a career-high five steals.
“They did a good job of trying to find me and I gotta figure out just the flow in the offense of how we move for me to try to get more open. But, just don’t take it for granted every shot that I take, just try to make it, try to help the team and try to be as efficient as possible.” -- Hawks’ Saddiq Bey on settling in with the team
The Hawks remain in Miami to face the Heat again on Monday.
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Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC