Miami Heat get ‘gnarly,’ crash Atlanta Hawks’ party to take 3-1 series lead

ATLANTA — There have been loads of indicators pointing to a possible letdown for the Eastern Conference’s top-seeded Miami Heat in Sunday’s Game 4.

Kyle Lowry was a late scratch due to a left hamstring pressure. The Atlanta Hawks’ defensive anchor, Clint Capela, returned from a hyperextended proper knee to make his series debut. The State Farm Arena crowd, nonetheless hyped from Trae Young‘s game-winner on Friday, appeared to cap a ravishing spring weekend in The A with a series-tying win for his or her underdog Hawks, the place the house crew had received 21 of its final 24 video games.

Instead, Miami dominated with its protection in a 110-86 victory in what was its greatest displaying of the postseason up to now — all issues thought of — to construct a 3-1 lead on the No. 8-seeded Hawks.

“We have some gnarly rivals in our locker room that love massive challenges,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra stated.

Miami’s sport plan was easy: Try to management the ball and comprise Young. Coming off 14 turnovers in Game 3 and taking part in with out their level guard in Lowry, the Heat displayed magnificent poise on the offensive finish and completed with simply seven turnovers, in contrast to 15 for Atlanta. Most of these got here in rubbish time as Miami solely had two miscues as a crew by the top of the third quarter when it had already constructed a 19-point lead.

The Heat’s zero turnovers within the first half have been a playoff franchise document, in accordance to ESPN Stats & Information analysis.

“Everybody to a person in that locker room knew that we could not have a 15-20 turnover sport,” Spoelstra stated. “That was going to ignite this crowd, ignite that crew, so we had to be very coherent with our execution with out our quarterback.”

And Young, the breakout star of final yr’s playoffs, continued to wrestle mightily towards Miami. As heroic as his remaining flourish was in Game 3, the remainder of the series has been a nightmare for the fourth-year guard. The Heat held him to 9 factors on 3-for-11 capturing with 5 turnovers on Sunday, mirroring his underwhelming efforts in Game 1 (eight factors on 1-for-12 capturing) and Game 2 (10 turnovers and 2-for-10 capturing from 3).

“I have never been guarded like this … constantly, since highschool,” Young stated afterwards.

Sunday marked the primary sport of Young’s four-year profession — common season and postseason mixed — the place all of his factors got here on 3-pointers. It was additionally the primary time in his profession when he failed to try a couple of shot from 2-point vary. For the series, Young now has 24 turnovers and simply 20 made subject targets.

Jimmy Butler, who led Miami with 36 factors on 12-for-21 capturing, 10 rebounds, 4 assists and 4 steals, stated it has been the Heat’s crew method that is made the distinction towards Atlanta’s star, rattling off eight names — P.J. Tucker, Gabe Vincent, Caleb Martin, Victor Oladipo, Max Strus, Duncan Robinson, Tyler Herro and Lowry — who’ve shadowed Young 1-on-1 up to now.

“You always have to have your head on a swivel in the event you’re him,” stated Butler.

And Tucker, who had 14 factors on 5-for-7 capturing, eight rebounds and three assists, stated a part of Miami’s plan was to goal Young when it had the ball on offense.

“He’s too good of a scorer not to make him work on protection,” stated Tucker, who posted Young up a number of occasions Sunday.

Vincent (11 factors, 4 assists) was regular beginning in Lowry’s place and Oladipo additionally benefited from the taking part in time opened up by the purpose guard’s absence. The former All-Star guard scored simply six factors on 3-for-10 capturing however had 4 assists and extra rebounds than Capela (eight to seven) in making his postseason debut for Miami.

Miami outscored Atlanta by 28 within the 23 minutes Oladipo was on the ground.

“He’s actually labored diligently, he is made himself accessible,” Spoelstra stated of Oladipo, who has missed many of the final three seasons due to knee and quadriceps accidents. “You do not like it that it is underneath these circumstances however we knew one thing would occur — because it at all times does with each crew within the playoffs — due to that vitality that he is giving into this, he was ready for it. He gave us some actually good two-way minutes.”

The Heat can closeout the series in Tuesday’s Game 5 and would play the winner of the Philadelphia-Toronto series within the second spherical. The 76ers are up 3-1.

“Tonight was a superb one, however we received one other one which we received to get,” Butler stated.

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