The Hawks haven't started 3-0 on the road since 2010, but they can match that with a victory Tuesday night at Division rival Miami. The Heat are -3 NBA odds with a total of 196.5 points.
Hawks Again Class Of Division?
Atlanta won a franchise-record 60 games last season and Coach Mike Budenholzer was NBA Coach of the Year. But I expected at least a 10 game regression this year. Remains to be seen whether that will be accurate. I felt good about that prediction on opening night as the Hawks were beaten by 12 at home to Detroit. But Atlanta has won three straight since, albeit against weak competition. The Hawks swept a home-and-home over the weekend against Charlotte, winning in Atlanta by three (Budenholzer's 100th career win) and then Sunday by two in Charlotte. Atlanta held the Hornets to 4-for-24 shooting in the fourth quarter Sunday. Kent Bazemore, who is starting this season after DeMarre Carroll left in free agency, had a season-high 20 points in that game. Al Horford had 16 points and 12 rebounds.
When you think of the Hawks, you think of offense as Budenholzer has turned Atlanta in San Antonio East in terms of ball movement; Budenholzer was a long-time assistant to Gregg Popovich with the Spurs. But thus far, the Hawks are winning with defense. They rank fifth in the NBA in steals (9.5), fourth in opponent field-goal percentage (.394) and tied for eighth in forcing turnovers (17.0). Atlanta has held all four opponents this season to under .410 percent shooting. It also has at least nine steals in very game. Offensively, the Hawks have had at least 20 assists in every game. Jeff Teague (18.3 ppg) leads four Hawks averaging double-figure points.
The Hawks are 1-2-1 against the spread on NBA odds this season and 2-2 'over/under.'
Heat Won Crazy Game Sunday
I previewed Sunday's Rockets-Heat game in Miami here at SBR and recommended taking the Heat at -4. I wasn't feeling too confident about that with Miami trailing 67-46 with 9:13 remaining in the third quarter. But amazingly, the Heat still managed to win by 20, 109-89 (helped that the Rockets surprisingly sat Dwight Howard simply for rest). The last team to be down by at least 20 points and come back to win by at least 20 was Sacramento in March 2000 when the Kings were down 23 to the Clippers but won 104-83. Miami’s 21-point comeback victory was the third-largest by the Heat and the second-largest overcome at home.
Hassan Whiteside had a big game for Miami with 25 points, 15 rebounds, three steals and two blocks. Dwyane Wade added 20 points. Chris Bosh had just 10. Wade has scored at least 20 points in each of the first three games to start this season. It's the first time he has done that to open a year since 2009-10. The Heat weren't a great 3-point shooting team last year but have hit 27 of them thus far, tying for the third-most through three games in franchise history. The only negative for the Heat thus far is point guard Goran Dragic averaging just 9.0 points per game.
Somewhat surprisingly, the Heat have yet to use center Chris Andersen this season. He was active for the opener but didn't play and has been inactive the past two games. Heat coach Erik Spoelstra has said that one of the spots on the Heat's game-day inactive list routinely could be one of the team's centers. Amare Stoudemire was active Sunday (but didn't play) for the second consecutive game after being inactive for the opener. He was limited in practice on Monday as he continues to manage his knee problems. So Stoudemire might not play here, either.
Miami is 2-1 ATS on NBA picks and 1-2 O/U.
Atlanta swept Miami last season 4-0. Only one of the games was decided by single digits: a 93-91 Hawks victory on Feb. 28 in Miami. In that one, the Hawks rested four regulars in Al Horford, Teague, Carroll and Pero Antic. Antic also is no longer with the Hawks. The Heat were without Bosh game as he was dealing with the blood clot problem in his lung that ended his season in mid-February. The Hawks have won six straight in the series overall.