Heat-Hawks Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated November 09, 2012
While the Miami Heat are known for their offensive prowess, they're proving mighty stingy on the defensive end, too. The Atlanta Hawks know all too well how hard it can be to generate offense against the defending NBA champions. Seeking a fourth consecutive win overall, the Heat try for a sixth straight road victory over the Hawks on Friday night. The Heat (4-1) are coming off Wednesday's 103-73 rout of Brooklyn, using a stifling defensive display to improve to 4-0 at home for the first time in franchise history. Miami, which two nights earlier held Phoenix to 39.8 percent shooting in a 124-99 win, limited the Nets to 37.5 percent from the field. "It was good to see another game, sub-40 percent," coach Erik Spoelstra said. "Our guys were, for the most part, committed to try to make an impact on that side of the floor." Dwyane Wade had 22 points, while LeBron James scored 20 to go along with 12 rebounds and eight assists. "When we get stops, we're going to break open a lot of games because we can score," James said. "So that's the No. 1 key." Miami has been especially good at containing teams from outside during its three-game run, limiting foes to 15 of 63 (23.8 percent) from 3-point range. "We know there's going to be moments when you're not going to be able to shoot the ball as well as you want to," Wade said. "It averages out for this team. ... That's why you have to be a good defensive team to be successful in this league." While the Heat have taken care of business at home, they were handed an ugly loss last Friday in their only road contest this season, 104-84 at New York. Miami, though, hasn't had much trouble in its last few visits to Philips Arena, where it's won five in a row by an average of 14.8 points. The Heat have also taken nine of 11 from the Hawks (2-1) overall, holding them to 88.4 points per contest. James has averaged 32.2 points on 54.2 percent shooting in his last nine games versus Atlanta. Although Wade, in contrast, hasn't posted great numbers against the Hawks of late, coach Larry Drew knows his team is likely to have its hands full. "They're good, they're two of the top players in our league," Drew said. "Both guys are really good in the open court, both guys are really good creators and both guys are willing passers. They can get to the rim, they can make jump shots - they make life for the opposition a little tough. "We're gonna just have to do a good job of collectively - as a team - defending both guys." Atlanta has won two in a row after dropping its season opener. The Hawks won 104-95 at Oklahoma City on Sunday, then pulled out an 89-86 home victory over Indiana three nights later. Atlanta trailed by 14 in the fourth quarter before putting together an 18-0 run, sparked by eight straight points from Kyle Korver. The 3-point specialist missed six of seven from beyond the arc before making his final two attempts. "We had the last run. It was a good gut-check for our team," said Korver, who shot 10-of-18 from 3-point range in four games against Miami last season while with Chicago. "It's good when you know your coach and teammates have your back and keep passing you the ball." After sitting out Sunday with a sprained right ankle, Josh Smith had 11 points, seven assists and five boards against the Pacers. He's averaging 14.0 points on 42.6 percent shooting during Atlanta's home losing streak against Miami.
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