Preview: Miami At Atlanta
When: 8:00 PM ET, Friday, February 19, 2016
Where: Philips Arena, Atlanta, Georgia
Six victories in their final nine games before the All-Star break vaulted the Miami Heat into fifth place in the Eastern Conference, but they will be without leading scorer Chris Bosh for Friday’s contest at the Atlanta Hawks – and potentially much longer. One season after missing 30 games with blood clots in his lung, Bosh reportedly is back on blood thinners due to a clot in his left leg, which caused the forward to pull out of Sunday’s All-Star game with what was described as a calf injury.
“He’s not here right now. He’s not going to be with us in Atlanta,” Miami coach Erik Spoelstra told reporters after practice Wednesday regarding Bosh, who averages 19.1 points and 7.4 rebounds. Despite the uncertainty surrounding Bosh the Heat did not make a major move at Thursday’s trade deadline, dealing role players Jarnell Stokes and Brian Roberts to shed salary. Atlanta sits one game ahead of Miami in the East standings and was the subject of fierce trade rumors as the team has struggled to find the pace that resulted in 60 wins last season, but only managed to part ways with reserves Shelvin Mack and Justin Holiday while acquiring guard Kirk Hinrich from Chicago. Hinrich played 72 games for Atlanta from 2010-12, averaging 7.3 points per contest.
TV: 8 p.m. ET, FSN Sun (Miami), FSN Southeast (Atlanta)
ABOUT THE HEAT (29-24): Only one team in the NBA (Philadelphia) is averaging less than the Heat’s 96 points per game, but Miami is second in the league in points allowed per contest (96.3). Center Hassan Whiteside leads the NBA in blocked shots (3.89) while ranking second in field-goal percentage (61.7 percent) and fifth in rebounding (11), but he will miss Friday’s game while serving a one-game suspension for a flagrant-2 foul Feb. 9 against San Antonio. Guard Dwyane Wade is averaging 21.1 points per game in his past 10 contests.
ABOUT THE HAWKS (31-24): Atlanta has shown signs of getting its offense on track, topping 100 points in five of its past six games after falling short of that mark in five of its previous six contests. All-Star forward Paul Millsap has been the most consistent performer, averaging 17.7 points and 8.6 rebounds, but is shooting 44.3 percent in five February games after hitting 51.7 percent of his shots in January. Guard Jeff Teague is averaging 17.6 points and five assists while shooting 45 percent from 3-point range in his past five contests – both he and center Al Horford were the subject of much speculation leading up to the trade deadline.
1. The Hawks announced C Tiago Splitter will undergo season-ending surgery on his right hip; Splitter averaged 5.6 points and 3.5 rebounds in 36 games.
2. The Heat have won two of the first three meetings with Atlanta this season after losing all four games last season, beating the Hawks 100-88 on Dec. 14 in Atlanta and 105-87 on Jan. 31 in Miami.
3. Miami is 13-0 when holding opponents to less than 90 points this season.
PREDICTION: Hawks 105, Heat 97