After a five-game losing skid, the Atlanta Hawks have seemingly found their rhythm once again, winning two straight against the Minnesota Timberwolves and a Jrue Holiday-less Bucks squad. Tonight, Atlanta will face their toughest threat yet in this short stretch, as they’ll have their hands full with the Miami Heat. Miami currently sits at the second spot in the East, tied with Chicago for first place.
A win tonight for Miami would get them to their 30th of the year, whereas an Atlanta win would bring them to their 20th win of the season. As Miami looks to finish as the top seed in the East, Atlanta looks to stay hot and find themselves in the play-in race once again. Tonight’s game in Atlanta has huge implications for both groups.
How The Atlanta Hawks Can Win:
— Atlanta Hawks (@ATLHawks) January 21, 2022
The Atlanta Hawks will be without Bogdan Bogdanovic in tonight’s game, with Clint Capela, Danilo Gallinari, and Gorgui Dieng being listed as questionable. With Capela being out for the past six games, Hawks youngster Onyeka Okongwu has held the fort down in the paint. Okongwu has had the task of going up against the likes of Giannis Antetokounmpo and Karl-Anthony Towns, and he’s looked terrific in the process. Okongwu has proven recently why he was picked sixth overall in 2020, and if he can hold down the paint against Bam Adebayo the same way he did with the other stars, Atlanta’s chances in this game will skyrocket.
Not only is Okongwu a major X-Factor in this game, but if Atlanta wants to have a fighting chance, De’Andre Hunter must replicate his play from the past four games. In three of the last four games, Hunter has had 20+ points, while being a solid contributor defensively. If Hunter can continue this reliability as a scorer and build a tandem with Trae Young offensively, not only will it take pressure off Young, but it will create openings for players such as Kevin Huerter and John Collins to succeed. If Atlanta wants to win, Hunter has to step up.
How The Miami Heat Can Win:
Third matchup vs. Atlanta in the last nine days.
Drop a 🔥 to support our guys on the road tonight! pic.twitter.com/SoXfMI1nib
— Miami HEAT (@MiamiHEAT) January 21, 2022
As for Miami, Kyle Lowry will be sitting out due to personal reasons, and Tyler Herro will be sidelined due to health and safety protocols. In addition, KZ Okpala and Markieff Morris will also miss tonight’s game. Miami will be going into State Farm Arena shorthanded, but as exhibited many times this season, Miami does not need a full lineup to stay afloat.
The main reason Miami has made a big jump this year is due to their next man-up mentality, as guys such as Max Strus, Gabe Vincent, Caleb Martin, and Omer Yurtseven have succeeded in larger roles when needed. Miami has some of the best depth in the league, and you never know who’s going to have a big game for them. Miami’s game plan should be rather simple; Erik Spoelstra commits to a balanced attack that gets everyone involved offensively while scheming intelligently defensively, Miami should take home the win in this game.
Overall, Miami has been far more reliable this season, and the Hawks are relying on great performances from Okongwu and Hunter to win. It should be a fun and close game to watch, but it’s a hard bet to place on Atlanta coming out with the win.
The Spread Via FanDuel:
- Moneyline: ATL: (-120) | MIA: (+102)
- Spread: ATL: -1.5 (-110) | MIA: +1.5 (-110)
Final Prediction: Heat 108, Hawks 99