The Atlanta Hawks don’t seem to have much confidence offensively when they visit Miami. An outstanding opening week of March, though, should have them brimming with confidence right now.
Winners of four straight, the Hawks and their surging offense look to end their road struggles against the Heat on Saturday night.
Atlanta (40-21) beat Milwaukee 106-102 in overtime Feb. 28, and has averaged 118.3 points in winning its first three games of March to produce the club’s longest winning streak since a six-game run Dec. 5-18.
The Hawks, however, are opening a three-game trip at a venue where they have not had much success.
Atlanta has lost 25 of its last 29 games at Miami, averaging 84.2 points and shooting 40.6 percent. That includes two losses in three games in the first round of last year’s playoffs, a series the Hawks ultimately won in seven games.
Atlanta has been held under 80 points in four of its last five road games against the Heat (31-31), including a 92-75 loss Jan. 4.
Miami has been stingy defensively overall this season, allowing 95.5 points per game.
However, the Hawks have scored at least 100 in five of their last six games away from Philips Arena. They’re returning to the road following a 127-122 home win over Golden State on Friday night.
“It was important we all came out and gave him support,” Horford said of Johnson.
Johnson was limited to 11 points - shooting 4 of 15 - and Smith had eight in January’s visit to Miami. Johnson was the only Hawks starter to reach double figures.
Miami is coming off a big home win, 114-111 in overtime against the Los Angeles Lakers on Thursday night. A victory over Atlanta would give the Heat three straight at home for the first time this season.
Back at .500, Miami is in eighth place in the Eastern Conference, one game ahead of Charlotte and one-half game behind Chicago.
Dwyane Wade(notes) led the Heat with 27 points and a season-high 14 assists versus the Lakers, but Jermaine O’Neal(notes) made perhaps the game’s biggest play. The center drew a crucial charge against Lakers star Kobe Bryant(notes) with 18.7 seconds left in overtime.
“We have big-moment, big-player type guys that love to step up to a big challenge like this and aren’t afraid of the moment,” coach Erik Spoelstra said. “Obviously, Dwyane is like that, Jermaine is like that. Udonis (Haslem), Quentin (Richardson) will hit big shots. A lot of times it’s a fight and an argument to see who’s going to shoot the ball. They’re not running from it. They want the moment.”
Wade is averaging 31.5 points while shooting 61.5 percent (24 for 39) from the field and 93.8 percent (15 for 16) from the line in his last two home games against the Hawks.
Miami leads the season series 2-1.