Atlanta Hawks vs. Miami Heat Game 6 Preview and Pick

Atlanta Hawks +5 at Miami Heat -5 O/U 182 8 PM ET Friday May 1, 2009 on ESPN
by Jason Green of

The Hawks lead this best of 7 series 3-2.

Tonight the Heat will try to force a game 7 at home against the Atlanta Hawks. There will be no lack of motivation for the Heat, as in game 5 in Atlanta Mario West celebrated like the Hawks just won the NBA title, Josh Smith tried a showboating dunk attempt at the end of the game, and the Hawks announcer was less then respectful towards Dwayne Wade.

This series is one that has been hard fought, 4 technical fouls in game 5, and tonight should be no exception, as the Heat try to avoid elimination. Dwayne Wade shook off a bad back to play in game 5, but he needs some help in the scoring department. Michael Beasley did come off the bench to score 18 points, but he was only 5/12 from the floor. The Heat also need to rebound better tonight, as in game 5 the Hawks out-rebounded the Heat 37-29. Heat C Jermaine O’Neal only had 3 rebounds in game 5. The Heat have to get some other scorers involved tonight and win the battle of the boards or there will not be a game 7 in Atlanta.

This season the Heat were 28-13 at home and the Hawks were 16-25 in away games.

Hoops bookies have the Hawks as 5 favorites in this game with a total around 182. The Heat are posted at -240 as home favorites and the Hawks are posted at +190 as road dogs.

In game 5 on Wednesday night the Hawks beat the Heat 106-91. The high scorer in that game for the Hawks was Joe Johnson going for 25 points on 6/15 shooting. Johnson attacked the rim all night and was 12/25 from the charity stripe. For the game the Hawks shot 34/70 for a FG% of 48.6%. The high scorer for the Heat in game 5 was Dwayne Wade going for 29 points on 9/19 shooting. For the game the heat shot 31/65 from the floor for a FG% of 47.7%.

This season the Heat ranked 18th in scoring (98.3 ppg) and the Hawks were right behind them ranked 19th (98.1 ppg). Atlanta allowed an average of 96.5 ppg this season and the Heat allowed an average of 98 ppg. Neither team was legit on the boards in the regular season, as the Heat had a rebounding differential of -1.9 rpg and the Heat were at -2.9 rpg.

This season the Hawks were 44-37-1 ATS and the Heat were 40-41-1. In terms of Over/Under games the Hawks were 38-43-1 this season and the Heat were 43-37-2.

On the injury front Dwayne Wade is day to day and Jamario Moon is Out for the Heat and Marvin Williams and Al Horford are day to day for the Hawks.

Horford sprained his ankle in game 5 and he will be a game time decision, but he should go. The Hawks will need his rebounding and inside presence tonight.

The Heat have to keep the Hawks off the offensive glass and limit their second chance opportunities, as in game 5 the Hawks had 12 offensive boards and the Heat only had 6.

In game 5 the Hawks had more rebounds, steals, blocks, and less turnovers.

The Heat have to play better perimeter defense tonight, as in game 5 Johnson and Mike Bibby combined for 42 points and were 12/24 shooting.

The Hawks were solid in getting to the rim and getting fouled in game 5 and they hit their shots from the line going 33/41 from the charity stripe for a FT% of 80.5%.

Jermaine O’Neal must put up more numbers then the 11 point 3 rebound performance in game 5. If he and Udonis Haslem can score some inside buckets it will open up the perimeter for Wade and the guards of the Heat.

The Heat could also use some help from their bench, as in game 5, besides Beasley, the Heat bench scored a grand total of 6 points on a combined 3/7 shooting.

The Hawks were not a good road team this season and the Heat were legit in their house, but the Hawks have already won one game in this series and Miami and the Heat have to play well to keep it that way or they will be done for the post season.

Jason’s Pick: Expect the Heat to come out strong tonight and win this game and cover the spread.