December 19, 2017 / 4:11 AM / 8 months ago

Preview: Heat at Hawks

The Miami Heat head into Monday night’s matchup at the Atlanta Hawks with four wins in their past five games, including a historic night for coach Erik Spoelstra in Saturday’s 90-85 home triumph over the Los Angeles Clippers. Spoelstra became the franchise’s all-time leader in wins, passing Pat Riley in a game that he joked afterward the coaching legend had to enjoy as Miami shot 37.8 percent from the field in a sluggish performance.

“Those are the old-school, tough, grind-it-out, find any way as a competitor to win the game,” Spoelstra told reporters after forward Josh Richardson carried Miami with a career-high 28 points, helping Spoelstra earn career victory No. 455. Atlanta has lost four in row after winning three times in seven games, and at 6-23 owns the worst record in the NBA. The Hawks endured another close call in the fourth quarter Friday at Memphis, missing three shots to tie or win the game in the final 3.5 seconds of a 96-94 defeat. “I think we took a step forward as a team,” Atlanta guard Kent Bazemore told the media afterward. “We didn’t get the win, but there was a lot of good stuff.”

TV: 7:30 p.m. ET, FSN Sun (Miami), FSN Southeast (Atlanta)

ABOUT THE HEAT (15-14): Richardson has emerged as a go-to option for Miami’s offense, shooting 58.3 percent from 3-point range in the past eight games while averaging 16.3 points per contest in that span. The Heat are shooting 37 percent from 3-point range, scoring 35.7 percent of their points this season from beyond the arc. Guard Goran Dragic leads Miami in scoring at 16.6 points per game, but his production has dipped to 11.6 per contest in his past 10 games.

ABOUT THE HAWKS (6-23): Forward Taurean Prince hit a career-high five 3-pointers en route to 17 points Friday, and is shooting 42.5 percent from long range this season. Atlanta ranks sixth in the NBA in assists per game (23.6) and has recorded 25 or more in five of its past six contests. Guard Dennis Schroder leads the Hawks in scoring (19.7) and assists (6.7), finishing Friday with 18 points and 11 assists.

BUZZER BEATERS

1. The Hawks are 24th in the league in points allowed per game (108.7), and have surrendered 110 or more points seven times in the past 10 games.

2. Heat F James Johnson, who averages 10.9 points and 5.2 rebounds, will miss at least a week with right ankle bursitis.

3. Miami is 9-7 on the road this season after going 18-23 away from home in 2016-17.

PREDICTION: Miami 107, Atlanta 96

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