Hawks vs. Heat Live Notebook

Ben Ladner

Pregame

Carter Joins Select Company

Coming off his best game of the season against Charlotte (17 points, two assists), Vince Carter will become the fifth player in history to play in 1500 NBA games. The 22-year veteran will join Robert Parish (1,611), Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (1,560), Dirk Nowitzki (1,522), and John Stockton (1,504) in the 1500-game club and, in all likelihood, the Hall of Fame in a few years. 

Hunter Back in the Starting Lineup

Atlanta will start Trae Young, Kevin Huerter, De'Andre Hunter, Jabari Parker, and Damian Jones against Miami. This is just the second start for this unit and the third game the trio of Young, Huerter, and Hunter has started together. Injuries have denied Lloyd Pierce a full complement of players, and finally getting his three best available players on the court represents a small but important step toward Atlanta reaching full strength. 

The Heat will start Kendrick Nunn, Jimmy Butler, Duncan Robinson, Meyers Leonard, and Bam Adebayo. 

First Quarter

Heat Off To A Strong Start

Atlanta's ball-screen defense has been poor to start the game. Duncan Robinson separated on the left wing for a pull-up 3 before Jimmy Butler turned the corner against De'Andre Hunter to dime up Meyers Leonard rolling to the basket. Lloyd Pierce quickly called a timeout to get things back in order. 

After the Hawks set up Jabari Parker for 3 on their first possession, the Heat have hit their first five shots to take a 12-3 lead. 

Robinson Torching the Hawks

When a player's value is as closely tied to doing one thing as Duncan Robinson's is, it's typically a good idea to try and prevent him from doing that thing. The Hawks have thus far failed to pay Robinson his due respect as a shooter, and he has punished them for it with 14 points and four made 3-pointers. 

Even after he'd hit two triples, De'Andre Hunter failed to pick up the shooter in transition before Jabari Parker simply neglected to guard him on the perimeter. When Pierce laments Atlanta's mental mistakes and lack of discipline, those are the sorts of plays to which he's referring. It's one thing to be overpowered by a larger player or zoomed past by a smaller one, but not knowing the opposing personnel or making the effort to stop them is what frustrates coaches to no end. 

Reddish's Myopia Continues

Cam Reddish has to learn to give the ball up in transition. He just has to. The rookie just ignored a wide-open Vince Carter (who had just hit a 3 on the previous possession) on the wing to dribble into a 17-footer, and that's not even close to the worst decision he's made on the fast break this season. 

It's understandable for a rookie to be overwhelmed by the speed of the NBA game, and thus rush into crowds or panic under duress. But at some point, Reddish's awareness must improve, and he has yet to show much progress in transition. 

Despite an appalling start, the Hawks trail by only six after the first quarter. Kevin Huerter has provided a nice lift with his passing while Carter drilled three 3s in the first frame to keep Atlanta in it. Heat lead 36-30 after one. 

Second Quarter

Fernando Gets First-Quarter Run

It was a brief first stint for Alex Len in the first period, with Bruno Fernando playing six minutes in his first rotation. Both played fairly well while on the floor, and it's yet unclear if Lloyd Pierce was unsatisfied with Len's play or if he just plans on using three centers in the rotation tonight. 

Atlanta Active In the Corners

The Hawks have already taken 10 corner 3s with over three minutes to play in the first half. That figure accounts for 24 percent of their shots and Atlanta has hit six of those 10 attempts. That has been a big reason why the Hawks are in the game despite a rough defensive half. They're 13-of-25 overall from 3 thanks to four bombs from Carter and three each from Huerter and Hunter. 

While 52 percent from 3 is a difficult mark to sustain over a full game, part of the Hawks' accuracy from deep is due to their ball movement. Sixteen of Atlanta's 21 buckets have been assisted, which has made the offense less predictable for Miami's rugged defense. 

Hawks lead 60-57. 

Young Forcing the Issue

Trae Young could stand to be more judicious with his shot selection at times. He has forced a few deep 3s early in the shot clock in the first half of this one, and while his ability to hit that shot is a central part of his skill set, he could do a better job sensing when the Hawks can generate a better shot -- especially when he doesn't have a hot hand. 

Young has just eight points on 2-of-7 shooting tonight, and just forced a long jumper that led to a Robinson 3 in transition. It's a difficult line for a player like Young to walk, but deciding when to release impossibly deep jumpers is one of the next steps the point guard can take. 

Heat lead 66-64 at halftime. 

Third Quarter

Hunter Imposes His Will Offensively

De'Andre Hunter hasn't been as sharp as usual on defense tonight, but has had no problem asserting himself offensively against Duncan Robinson and Miami's other wings. The rookie has three 3-pointers, but has been aggressive off the dribble as well, putting him up to 13 points on 5-of-8 shooting. 

He hasn't attacked to the same degree on the other end, however. Hunter has struggled getting around screens, both on and off the ball, and doesn't seem as quick as usual staying in front of the ball. In the rookie's defense, he has been matched up with Jimmy Butler for much of the night and Miami's bigs set punishing screens. That much could take most defenders out of their element. 

Heat lead 76-74. 

Hawks Lacking Weak-Side Defense

Atlanta's help defense at the rim is nowhere to be found in the third quarter. Jones and Len have four and three fouls, respectively, but few Hawks have even made much of an effort to stop the ball once it gets past the first line of defense. Pierce tried playing Jabari Parker at center once Jones picked up his fourth, but that lineup quickly yielded an uncontested layup after Parker stood flat-footed as Jimmy Butler zoomed to the basket. 

The Heat are 18-of-21 at the rim for the game. If Atlanta could offer any kind of resistance inside this might be an entirely different game. 

Huerter Solidifying Backup Point Guard Spot

For the second straight game, Lloyd Pierce has gone with Kevin Huerter -- rather than Evan Turner -- at point guard with Young off the floor, and it appears to be a viable way forward for Atlanta's offense. Savvy though Turner is, Huerter simply offers more shooting on the second unit, which forces defenses into tougher decisions when guarding the ball. 

Hawks Close Third Quarter Small

Atlanta played Parker at center for the final few minutes of the third quarter, which helped open up the Hawks' offense with Young off the floor. Atlanta probably benefitted from some good luck on defense -- Miami missed some easy layups and an open 3 that Parker failed to contest -- but managed to get away with playing small for a few minutes. With none of their centers playing well (and two in foul trouble), this could be a look with which Pierce closes the game if he feels the Hawks can survive on defense. 

Fourth Quarter

Crabbe Continues to Make An Impact

It was unclear how prominent a role Allen Crabbe would play at the start of the year. The veteran wing didn't play his first game until November 14 -- Atlanta's 11th of the year -- but has been a staple of Pierce's rotation ever since. While he's only shooting 28 percent from 3 on the season, Crabbe's reputation as shooter is enough to occupy a defense's attention, which gives the Hawks breathing room. He and DeAndre' Bembry, who have opposite strengths and weaknesses, make for an interesting and effective pairing on the second unit.  

A game after scoring a season-high 11 points against Charlotte, Crabbe has given Atlanta a boost tonight with seven points in 17 minutes. The Hawks lead, 105-99, with just over eight minutes to play. 

Hawks Capitalizing on Young's Gravity

The Heat are trapping Young fairly aggressively in the pick-and-roll, which has allowed the Hawks to play four-on-three once he gives the ball up. That has resulted in several open Atlanta 3-pointers on the weak side off of quick ball movement, a major reason for the Hawks' 41.7 percent shooting from deep. 

That's the kind of impact a guard like Young can have on an offense without shooting the ball. The mere threat of his pull-up 3 is enough to rewire a defense's entire infrastructure, and the more he pulls Miami's defenders toward him, the more it opens up for his teammates. 

Meanwhile, De'Andre Hunter is only growing more assertive as he keeps hitting shots, and has shown no hesitation going at Duncan Robinson one-on-one. The rookie has set a career-high of 28 points on 11-of-15 shooting and has scored the last nine for Atlanta. 

Miami Makes A Push

With a six-point lead and just under a minute to play, the Hawks took Young out of the game for a defensive possession, which resulted in a Duncan Robinson 3-pointer. Rather than using a timeout (of which Atlanta had two) to get Young back in, the Hawks simply inbounded the ball and ran their next play, which ended with DeAndre' Bembry taking an awful driving hook shot that was blocked and kept in bounds. Jimmy Butler hit a 3 to tie, and Pierce called his penultimate timeout. 

Overtime

A seven-point spurt by Miami to start overtime may have just sunk the Hawks. The period began with Robinson hitting his ninth 3-pointer of the game, then continued with two Heat dunks and an Atlanta timeout. The Hawks have not attempted a quality shot yet in overtime. Miami leads 124-117 with 3:50 to play. 

The Hawks were outscored 22-0 over the end of regulation and start of overtime, and did not score during the competitive portion of overtime. Pierce's decision not to call timeout after Miami cut the lead to 3 late in the fourth quarter cost the Hawks dearly. 

Jimmy Butler (20 points, 18 rebounds, 10 assists) and Bam Adebayo (30 points, 11 rebounds, 11 assists, two steals) became just the ninth pair of teammates in NBA history to record triple-doubles in the same game. For the Hawks, De'Andre Hunter set a career high in points and field goals made. 

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