3 Hawks bold predictions for 2023 NBA Play-in Tournament vs. Heat

With the Atlanta Hawks’ 2023 NBA Play-in Tournament game scheduled against the Miami Heat, the basketball world will be focused on Trae Young and Co. Tuesday night. Ahead of the Hawks-Heat game, we’ll be making our Hawks NBA Play-in Tournament predictions.

It won’t be easy for the Atlanta Hawks to defeat the Heat in the first round of the play-in tournament. The Heat finished three games ahead of the Hawks to win the Southeast Division. Miami beat Atlanta in three of their four regular-season meetings. The Hawks only took one game from the Heat when the division rivals met in the 2022 playoffs and Atlanta was eliminated from the first round after five contests.

After quickly being dismissed from last year’s playoffs at the hands of the Heat, the Hawks are looking for some payback. Miami will have to deal with Dejounte Murray, who was traded to Atlanta two months after meeting the Heat in the playoffs. The 2022 Heat were the East’s No. 1 seed with a 53-39 record. Miami won nine fewer games this season and hasn’t played like a championship contender.

The Hawks have a real chance to pull off the upset and earn the No. 7 seed in the East playoff bracket. Let’s move on to our Hawks 2023 NBA Play-in Tournament predictions.

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3. Atlanta Hawks will score more than 120 points 

Miami’s defense isn’t as good as it was last year when the Heat eliminated the Hawks and made it all the way to Game 7 of the 2022 Eastern Conference Finals. In fact, the Heat defense isn’t nearly as good as it was a few months ago. After ranking No. 5 in defensive rating before the 2023 All-Star break, Miami plummeted to 22nd in the second half of the season. The Heat have given up 117.1 points per 100 possession since the break. Atlanta’s 118.2 defensive rating during that time is only slightly worse.

Atlanta’s offense has gone in the opposite direction. The Hawks have scored 120.1 points per 100 possessions since the All-Star break. Only the Sacramento Kings, New York Knicks and Philadelphia 76ers have been more efficient on offense over that 33-game span. It’s no coincidence that Atlanta’s offense has improved since Quin Snyder became the head coach. The Hawks scored 128 points when they last faced the Heat on March 6. Atlanta could get to the 120-point mark with plenty of time to spare Tuesday night.

2. Trae Young and Dejounte Murray will combine to score more than 55 points for Atlanta Hawks

The Hawks’ starting backcourt averaged a combined 46.7 points per game during the regular season. Murray put up 20.5 points per game during his first season in Atlanta. Young’s scoring average was 26.2 points per contest, falling more than two points from a season ago. The biggest difference for Young was his 3-point shooting. The sharpshooter made just 33.5% of his 3-pointers in the regular season, but that percentage could be much improved in the play-in tournament and the playoffs.

Young broke out of his shooting funk after the All-Star Break, during which he made 36.8% of his attempts from behind the arc. The biggest reason for Young’s struggles against Miami in last year’s playoffs was his 7-of-38 shooting from downtown. He’s too good of a shooter to have a repeat performance. Young and Murray combined for 48 points on 36 field-goal attempts when Atlanta faced Miami a month ago. Young totaled 62 points in two play-in tournament games last season to lead the Hawks to the playoffs. Look for the guards to take over in the biggest game of the Hawks’ season.

1. Atlanta Hawks will beat Miami Heat by double digits

The Heat have come up well short in their biggest games of the season. Miami had a chance to create some separation between itself and the Brooklyn Nets in the standings on March 25. Instead, the Nets embarrassed the Heat on their home floor in a 129-100 Miami loss. The Heat fell out of the playoff picture and into the play-in tournament. A few days later, Miami blew any chance of catching the New York Knicks for the No. 5 seed with a 101-92 defeat at Madison Square Garden. Why will things be any different in the play-in tournament?

Maybe the Heat will overlook the Hawks, given their recent history. You can be sure that Atlanta won’t look past Miami. Young and Atlanta proved two years ago with their trip to the conference finals just how dangerous they can be as underdogs. The Heat have won more close games than anyone, going 14-8 in contests decided by three points or fewer. If Atlanta can hit its shots early and start to build a lead, Miami won’t be in a position to steal another victory late.

The post 3 Hawks bold predictions for 2023 NBA Play-in Tournament vs. Heat appeared first on ClutchPoints.

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