The Heat are concerned with more than just the health of their players, though, as they get set to enter the playoffs as the Eastern Conference’s second seed. Coach Pat Riley might be with his ailing mother Mary Riley, 96, in Schenectady, N.Y., rather than coach the Heat on Tuesday.
He left Miami after the Heat’s 117-93 loss to Chicago on Sunday. Following this game, the Heat will fly to Boston—a much shorter trip from the Schenectady area—and end the regular season on Wednesday.
Both Shaquille O’Neal and Dwyane Wade didn’t play more than 20 minutes Sunday, and each sat out the fourth quarter of the loss. O’Neal had 14 points and six rebounds, and Wade added eight points to see his streak of 78 games scoring in double figures snapped.
Williams, Posey, Michael Doleac, Wayne Simien, Derek Anderson, Shandon Anderson and Earl Barron all played in the fourth quarter for the Heat. Barron had totaled 10 minutes all season prior to Sunday.
“It is not indicative of who we are,” said Riley, whose team is 4-5 in its last nine games. “I was very conscious of the minutes and then at the end, I was very conscious about health.”
Reserve center Alonzo Mourning, out for the last 10 games because of a torn calf muscle, hopes to return for the playoffs.
The Heat have won 10 straight and 13 of the last 14 meetings with the Hawks, who are returning home after snapping an 11-game road skid with Saturday’s 120-114 victory over Milwaukee.
“Our team is definitely capable of scoring,” Williams said. “Guys played harder on the defensive end and we were able to capitalize.”
One more victory would double the Hawks’ win total from last season, when they finished with the NBA’s worst record.
“The sky is the limit,” Tyronn Lue said. “Getting a better work ethic is a big thing for the young guys.”
The Hawks will have forward Josh Childress available after he served a two-game suspension for throwing a forearm to the head of Chicago’s Andres Nocioni last week. Al Harrington, though, has missed three straight games with a bruised left hand.
Atlanta, which will miss the playoffs for the seventh straight season, plays its final game Wednesday in Cleveland.