Down Go the Heat in Hawks Playoffs-Clinching Win

By Vershawne Pennyamon | 4/13/2014, 7:33 a.m.
Miami best beware come the postseason, because the Atlanta Hawks showed tonight that are in it to win it.

Miami best beware come the postseason, because the Atlanta Hawks showed last night that are in it to win it.

The Hawks defeated the Miami Heat 98-85, to earn the final ticket to the Eastern Conference playoffs. And the Hawks Jeff Teague (25 points) and Lou Williams (23 points) drained enough buckets to sink the Heat’s hope of holding onto the top spot in the East.

“I’m happy for our guys,” Hawks’ Coach Mike Budenholzer said. “They’ve been a resilient group all year—the way they’ve played and the way they’ve competed.”

The game’s provided lots of excitement, as both teams were putting together a string of runs. Teague had nine-point run by his lonesome, as LeBron James and Dwayne Wade played “hot potato” with the hot hand for the Heat.

The Hawks were excellent on fast breaks and from beyond the arc. Even their defense, as they forced the Heat into 20 turnovers for the game (including 13 steals).

“We as a team got around 95 percent of 50-50 balls,” Hawks’ primary bench-scorer Lou Williams said about the team’s hustle for loose balls.

Heat Coach Erik Spoelstra showed his disgust for his team’s careless possessions, as he stated “We need to save possessions, regardless of what happens. We had too many of those to try to save.”

As a result of the loss, the Heat fall into a first-place tie with Indiana, with only a week left of regular season basketball.

Blame the Hawks' bench-play for the Heat's woes.

Williams and Mike Scott proved to be vital, as they had 35 points total versus the Heat’s eight. Scott racked up 12 points, highlighted by a double-pump jam that started a late-game run for the Hawks. Williams proved his stroke was sweet, as he went 4 for 4 from beyond the arc and had 18 points in the final quarter alone. Scott and Williams are the only two players on the bench to score and this could be a problem come playoffs time…especially if they are to face the Heat again.

Currently, the top spot remains the only unlocked spot in the East, as Miami and Indiana play postseason musical chairs.

Dwayne Wade was expected to sit but Coach Erik Spoelstra had him suited up, and play he did.

In the first half, Wade was hot from every area of the floor, as he had 16 points. But Wade disappeared in the third quarter, managing one point. He did get himself going again in the fourth with 7 points. Unfortunately, his free-throw shooting was abysmal (4 for 9; 44 percent).

The free throw and three point field goal percentage of the Heat easily explains why the Hawks won the game by 13 points. Miami shot 24 percent from behind the arc and 47 percent from the free-throw line. These percentages will lose anybody a basketball game.

In contrast, the Hawks shot 45 percent behind the arc and 84 percent from the behind the charity stripe.

Three-time league MVP LeBron James had a great game but he could never seem to find a groove. He was a presence on defense with key plays that do not reflect in the final box score.

A team game-ball for the entire Atlanta Hawks franchise for this win, as Coach Budenholzer will make his playoffs debut in less than two weeks.

“I’m happy that we get to play more games and I get to talk more about improving, and getting better each practice,” Budenholzer said with a smirk. The enthusiasm is evident now it’s up to the Hawks to perform.

That’s when checks are earned and glory is won.