Latest posts by Ben Stinar (see all)
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ATLANTA — The section of the arena near the tunnel felt like a playoff environment. Fans had their phones, cameras, and jerseys ready.
This would be the final time Dwyane Wade would ever run out of the tunnel in Atlanta. Wade had entered the floor for the first time much earlier and with much less people in the arena. He was warming up at 3:35 p.m.; the first Heat player to take the court. His preparation still unmatched.
Meanwhile, the Atlanta Hawks had to put the heroics aside and focus on the game. They suffered their worst loss of the season in Milwaukee against the Bucks their last time out, losing by 32 points.
Thankfully for the Hawks they would be on the right end of the blowout this time. Trae Young would have a game-high 19 points and the Hawks would thump the Miami Heat 106-82 amidst all the cheers for D-Wade.
“Records can be very deceptive,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “If you don’t bring your best effort, your best game, best focus, you pay the price and get beat.”
In fact, this was the third time the Hawks beat the Heat in three tries. Three for three. Twenty-five percent of the Hawks’ 12-wins have come against the Heat.
“When you have a game like this anything would’ve been a better answer than what I did,” Spoelstra said when asked why he didn’t play Wayne Ellington or Dion Waiters.
A coincidental turnaround for the Hawks who had to be asking themselves the same questions after their last game. What could they have done differently to prevent a 32-point loss? Instead, they moved forward and came out with a bang.
“I think you just gotta realize there’s gonna be nights like that,” Young told Amico Hoops. “Especially when you play 82 games it’s gonna be a night where you just feel like you just don’t have it and the other team is on fire.
“It sucks. It always sucks to happen. It’s gonna happen, so for me I just move past it.”
Young sure got past it. The fifth overall pick was perfect from downtown shooting 3/3, and shot 6/14 in total. He also had Dwyane Wade’s signed jersey from the game hanging in his locker. A good night for Young to say the least.
Another young star for the Hawks, John Collins,has become one of the best forwards in the Eastern Conference over the last two months and finished with 13 points and 13 rebounds. That was almost a bad night for him. The Wake Forrest product is averaging 18.3 points and 10.3 rebounds on the season.
“With games like that I think it’s just humbling,” Collins told Amico Hoops when asked about rebounding from last game. “I think I’ve been playing really well as of late, and to have a game like that always kind of brings me back down to earth a little bit.”
The Hawks will carry the momentum with them across the border in Toronto for a battle with the Raptors on Tuesday night.