The No. 7 Miami Heat tried to put together a surge in the second half, but the No. 8 Atlanta Hawks stopped them to win, 116-105, to kick off the NBA Play-In Tournament.
With their victory, the Hawks have earned the No. 7 seed for the first round of the playoffs. They will head to Boston this weekend to take on the Boston Celtics.
Trae Young wasn’t listening to the buzz of trade rumors before the announcement, as he did what he does best: lead the Hawks into postseason play.
Young finished the game with a team-high 25 points with seven assists and eight rebounds. He shot just 8 of 18 from the field, making just one of his nine 3-point attempts. But he made 8 of 9 free throws and took the offense where he wanted to go.
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Dejounte Murray was also key in the Hawks’ offense, scoring 18 points with five rebounds and six assists.
The Hawks were able to pull away early in the game, as the Heat’s mental and physical mistakes on their offensive end resulted in points for Atlanta. At the end of the first quarter, the Hawks led 36-27 and their lead headed to the locker room 15 after outscoring the Heat, 65-50.
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Head coach Erik Spoelstra didn’t seem to have the right defensive game plan for the Hawks, as Young seemed too comfortable on the offensive end. Things could have been much worse, as Young was only 5-of-12 for 13 points — he missed all four 3-point attempts.
But the Hawks’ bench made the most of their opportunities on the court. Saddiq Bey had 11 points, making three 3-pointers, while Bogdan Bogdanovic and Onyeka Okongwu had 10 points at the half.
However, Kyle Lowry felt off the Heat’s bench, as he had 33 points on 11-of-16 shooting from the field with six 3-pointers, as well as four rebounds and five assists. Spoelstra had him take over in the second half, but the Hawks were able to answer when they needed to.
Tyler Herro also turned things up in the second half, finishing with 26 points on 12-for-23 shooting with six boards and two steals.
On the other hand, Jimmy Butler would like to change some shots of the night. He missed a few layups in the first half and finished the game with 21 points.
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He got to the free throw line as he normally does, making 9 of 11 attempts, but shooting only 6 of 19 from the field.
The Heat aren’t done with their season yet. They have another shot at making the playoffs as they will host the winner of the No. 9 Toronto Raptors and No. 10 Chicago Bulls matchup on Thursday night in Miami.
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That game will determine the eighth and final seed in the East.