Heat vs. Hawks NBA Preview and Best Bet for Friday

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Jimmy Butler #22 of the Miami Heat. Al Bello/Getty Images/AFP

The Miami Heat travel to Atlanta to take on the Hawks in a Southeast Division matchup. The Hawks and Heat know each other well as this will be their third meeting in the last 10 days. Can Atlanta turn things around, or will the Heat get their third win over the Hawks and be the winning NBA pick?

Miami Heat vs. Atlanta Hawks

Friday, January 21, 2022 – 7:30 PM EST at State Farm Arena

Miami Heat

The Miami Heat were able to navigate a tough path when they lost team leaders Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo to injury in December. The Heat did well without their stars, but they are happy to have these two team leaders back. With both players back in the lineup, the Heat can resume their run to the top of the Eastern Conference standings.

The Miami Heat's success is predicated on their ability to play elite defense. They are currently fourth in the league in points against at 103.9. They also do a great job of playing team basketball, which is why they are seventh in the league in assists at 25.5 per game.

Miami has an excellent front office and coaching staff. Miami head coach Erik Spoelstra has proven that he can win with superstars and with role players. He consistently develops whatever players are brought into the Heat system.

He turns them into players capable of fulfilling the roles asked of them by the team. Spoelstra helped the team navigate the tough stretch without their two best players, and now they are back in a position to put themselves at the top in the East.

Tyler Herro is a player who excelled during the absence of Butler and Adebayo. Herro is currently a leading candidate for Sixth Man of the Year and leads the team in scoring at 21 points per game. Not only is Herro an excellent catch-and-shoot three-point marksman, but he can also create his own shot when needed by the team.

After a sophomore slump, Tyler Herro has returned to be one of the best players in the NBA. Herro could miss tonight's game however with a COVID-19 diagnosis. If Herro is out, the Heat will turn to fellow sharpshooter Duncan Robinson.

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Duncan Robinson does not have the ability to create off the dribble like Tyler Herro does, but he is excellent in the catch-and-shoot role. Duncan Robinson shot over 40% from 3 last year and this year he is at 35%.

After a slow start to the season, his shooting form is returning. The Heat hope he gets back to his high shooting percentage. To fulfill their potential this season, they need Robinson’s ability to drain the open three.

Kyle Lowry is also a game-time decision, which would put more of an onus on Duncan Robinson to have a big night. This is one of the strengths of the Heat team. Other organizations flounder while missing their best players, yet Miami has developed and nurtured their role players to be able to take advantage of the opportunity of more playing time. Robinson is in a great position to prove this tonight.

Atlanta Hawks

After a breakout season last year, the Hawks are mired in mediocrity this season. The Hawks were able to make the Eastern Conference Finals last season. The Hawks are currently 19-25 and on the outside looking in at the playoff picture.

The Hawks have already made one move and maybe setting up for more. They traded Cam Reddish to the Knicks for Kevin Knox II and a first-round draft pick. The addition of the first-round pick may indicate that the Hawks are loading up to make a big move.

Unlike the Heat, the Hawks have not been able to navigate missing players very well. They may be in that position again tonight as two key components of the team, Bogdan Bogdanović and Clint Capela are both game-time decisions.

When the Hawks have been missing their usual starting five, they have not performed as well this season. The Hawks hope to have these players back. If they do not, they will need to take a page out of the Heat's book to adapt and overcome if they want to return to the playoffs.

The Hawks are led by Trae Young with his brilliant shooting and passing ability. Young leads the team with 28 points and 9.5 assists per game. Young is dangerous from anywhere on the floor and opposing defenders need to pick him up the second he crosses the half-court line.

The Hawks can usually count on Young to have a big night, but they will be reliant on the supporting cast if they are going to get the win this evening.

Key Matchup

De'Andre Hunter vs. Jimmy Butler

The loss of De'Andre Hunter earlier this season hurt the Hawks for multiple reasons. They missed Hunter's ability to score, but more so, they missed his ability to defend. Oftentimes Hunter is matched up against the opposing team's best offensive player.

That will be the case once again tonight as he will be required to check Jimmy Butler. Jimmy Butler is the heart and soul of his team. When he has a big night, the Heat usually goes on to get the victory.

If De'Andre Hunter is able to show his defensive prowess and slow down the Miami Heat All-Star, the Atlanta Hawks have a great chance to get the win. If Butler is able to get to his spots and set up the Heat offense against Hunter’s defense, the Miami Heat will be in an excellent position to defeat the Hawks once again.

Best Bet

I believe the Heat have the Hawks' number. They match up incredibly well and are a much better defensive team. When it comes down to crunch time, I trust the Heat to get stops much more than the Hawks.

The Hawks will have problems shutting down the Heat with the game on the line. The Heat practice good habits constantly, the Hawks’ effort can wane and wax. For your best bets, today’s play of the day is the Miami Heat +1.5 (-105).

NBA Pick: Miami Heat +1.5 (-105) with Bovada (visit our Bovada Review)

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Miami Heat +1.5 (-105)
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