Heat Try To Get on Track vs. Hawks

The Miami Heat have squandered chances to move into first place in the Southeast Division, losing to teams beneath them in the standings.

The Heat will try to avoid a similar fate when they host the Atlanta Hawks on Monday, the second meeting in the last week between the teams.

Miami beat Atlanta 91-83 on Wednesday, the Heat's only win in the last four games.

Oddsmakers have made Miami -10 point spread favorites (NBA Odds) for todays game, the over/under has been set at 181.5 total points (View NBA Sports Books). Our public betting information shows that 72% of bets for this game have been placed on Atlanta

+10 (View NBA Bet Percentages).

After Orlando stopped their nine-game winning streak with a 97-93 win on March 18, the Heat (37-32) have also lost to Indiana and Philadelphia in back-to-back games, missing a chance to jump ahead of Washington and into first place in the division.

The Wizards, who have also lost their past two games, lead Miami by one-half game. If the Heat win on Monday and Washington loses at Utah, Miami will take over first place.

In order to do that, the Heat will need to play better than they did in the second half of Saturday's 93-85 loss to the 76ers.

Philadelphia shot 53 percent and outscored Miami 19-0 on fast-break points after halftime, erasing a 19-point deficit and handing the Heat their second straight home loss after Miami had won 14 in a row at AmericanAirlines Arena.

"Just playing bad basketball," Heat guard Eddie Jones said. "We played some great minutes. In the first half we probably played 19, 20 minutes of great basketball. But we came out in the second half, man, and just played some bad basketball. ... We're letting teams do whatever they want to do."

With the exception of the win over the Hawks (27-44) last week, the Heat have shot poorly in their last four games, especially from 3-point range. Miami is just 19-for-92 (20.7 percent) from behind the arc in those contests and hasn't been able to find another way to score when opponents start to focus on Heat center Shaquille O'Neal.

"Teams are going to start going there, taking Shaq away from us," Miami point guard Jason Williams said. "So we've got to be prepared and be ready to go to different things."

Miami, which begins a three-game road trip after Monday's contest, is hoping to duplicate its recent success against Atlanta. The Heat have won all three meetings this season and 16 of the last 18.

The Heat have been even better against the Hawks at home, winning 10 straight and 19 of the last 20 dating to a season-opening win in 1996-97.

The Hawks wrapped up a four-game homestand with a 104-97 loss to Dallas on Sunday, dropping the last three games after blowing out Sacramento last Monday.

Atlanta fell for the fifth time in six games and dropped to 6-13 since the All-Star break. The Hawks rallied from 23 points down against the Mavericks on Sunday to take a 79-77 lead, but Dallas quickly regained control to hand Atlanta another loss.

"We didn't give up," Hawks forward Josh Smith said. "We played well for three quarters. The first quarter kind of hurt us. We put ourselves in position to win the game, and when we messed up on a couple of switches at the end, it kind of cost us the game."

Smith and Josh Childress had 21 points apiece for the Hawks, who shot a season-high 49 free-throws.

Atlanta, which is 12-23 on the road, has lost a season-high seven straight away from home. The Hawks play three of their next four on the road.

By: Marc Young - theSpread.com - Email Us

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