Miami Apr 27 (US): If one play can tell the story of a five-game streak, consider this: Trae Young’s last shot off the field was a 3-point corner attempt that he scrambled because he knew a defender was coming in at method.
The shot bounced off the side of the back panel.
Take a bow, Miami. Even without Kyle Lowry and Jimmy Butler, the defense held up the position — and moved the Heat into the Eastern Conference semifinals, according to the Associated Press.
Victor Oladipo scored 23 points, Pam Adebayo added 20 points and 11 rebounds, and the Heat moved to the second round of the playoffs by eliminating Young and the Atlanta Hawks 97-94 on Tuesday night.
“The most important thing in this match was our defense,” Adebayo said.
That was and still is Miami’s plan. The Heat rallied on the youths from the start of Game 1 through the end of Game 5, bringing the Atlanta high-octane scorer to an average of 15.4 points in the series on 32% of shooting. Young had a huge number of passes he got – 30 each.
“They’re a good defensive team,” Young said. “Their team is more of a system than theirs. No matter who they have there, they can play. … and when they have a guy they target and they try to rob him, they do a really good job of doing that.”
Tyler Hero scored 16, Max Strauss 15 and Caleb Martin added 10 for the top seed, who took the playoff with Butler and Laurie uninjured.
Young went 2-for-12 off the ground, scoring just 11 points. De’Andre Hunter scored 35 goals for Atlanta, which got 12 goals from Kevin Huerter and Danilo Galinari.
“Obviously I didn’t hit the ball well,” Young said.
Hunter miscalculated with 41.6 seconds left, and Miami held onto a three-point lead at the time. The Hawks stopped, with 29.2 seconds remaining, and retained possession after a missed shot from Gallinari went out of the Miami boundary.
The Hawks were never shot, time ran out and Miami moved on.
“They’re a hell team,” said Hawks coach Nate McMillan. “These guys are competing every second they’re out on the floor and I have a huge amount of respect for the way they play.”
Onyeka Okongwu had three points over Atlanta within 79-76 early in the fourth inning, and the Hawks regained their steam after being hit by as many as 15.
But Herro hit a high jumper from the pass, stopped Miami, and Oladipo 3 hit the left wing in the Heat’s next possession to push the gap to eight with 7:29 remaining. So the last minutes passed: Atlanta headed an onslaught, and Miami would put it off, until the end.
And now, The Heat are on hold for nearly a week before they face Philadelphia or Toronto in the Eastern Conference semi-finals. The first game will be on Monday in Miami.
“We are all committed to the same goal,” Strauss said.
The Heat already knew they would be without Lowry, who missed his second game in a row due to a strain in his left hamstring. And the surprise was Butler, who reported the team with knee pain on Monday and didn’t notice enough improvement to play on Tuesday.
But Butler and Lowry spent the last few minutes of the first half particularly enjoying what was happening.
A 17-0 lead in Miami – including 10 in a row from Strus in 67 seconds – turned a three-point deficit into a 54-40 lead late in the second quarter. Miami pushed the lead to 67-52 with a score of Adebayo with 2:55 remaining in the third game, and the lead was 75-64 in fourth place.
Atlanta had one last shipment to make, arriving within two last moments – but no closer. Gallinari’s last pass inside didn’t go to anyone, and he ran out of time.
“I thought it was appropriate that we stop this game at the end,” Heat coach Eric Spoelstra said.
Hawks: Clint Capella, who missed the first three games of the series with a right knee injury, left in the third quarter of Game Five due to persistent knee problems. … Atlanta was without Bogdan Bogdanovic (right knee soreness). …Nate Macmillan is now 1-8 in the postseason matches against Spoilstra. The Heat swept the Indiana Pacers McMillan in the first round of the bubble in 2020. …the Hawks went 2-7 against the Heat this season.
Heat: Michigan coach Joanne Howard, a former Miami player and assistant, was in attendance. … This was the first time a butler had been declared inactive in a playoff match. … Miami squandered its first eight 3-point attempts before Oldipo called in the middle of the second quarter. … Martin left shortly before the end of the first half with an injury around his left hand or wrist, but returned for the second half.
Prior to this series, Miami had more than 16 consecutive points in game history. She now has three. The Heat scored 21-0 in Game 3 in Atlanta, and Tuesday’s 17-0 round was the third-largest streak in playoff history. Miami fought 19-0 against New York in 2012, and has seen 16-0 on four other occasions.
Markev Morris of Miami did not play, and he suffered a technical foul anyway. Morris was called up to play unsportsmanlike after he grabbed Hunter after the Hawks forward came up to the bench area in Miami in the third quarter.
Miami beat Atlanta in a series for the first time in three attempts. The Hawks have won two previous first-round series, both reaching their maximum, winning 3-2 in 1994 and 4-3 in 2009.
Miami will host the first game of the Eastern Conference semi-final against Philadelphia or Toronto on Monday.