It took the Heat just five games to dispose of the Hawks, giving Miami its first playoff series win since the 2019-20 season.
A few weeks ago, seemingly before Atlanta knew it was going to face Miami in the first round of the playoffs, one member of the Hawks organization apparently described the Heat as a bad matchup for Atlanta. That individual pointed to the gap between Erik Spoelstra and Nate McMillan as his reasoning.
“When speaking about potential playoff matchups for the Hawks a few weeks ago, one source inside the organization mentioned how the Heat were a bad matchup for Atlanta,” wrote Chris Kirschner of The Athletic. “When asked why, he said he thought the gap between Erik Spoelstra and McMillan was too wide. Spoelstra is known as one of the best in-game tacticians in the NBA, and that showed itself with how the Heat neutralized [Trae] Young and how the Hawks couldn’t figure anything out to get him going.”
Spoelstra is undoubtedly one of the best coaches in the NBA, and that was on full display during the Heat’s series victory over the Hawks.
For Atlanta, it’s telling and perhaps troublesome that at least one member of the organization was clearly not confident in McMillan’s ability to keep up with Spoelstra.
It’ll be interesting to see what the future holds for the Hawks. Their 2021-22 season can best be described as disappointing after they made it all the way to the Eastern Conference Finals last season.
As for the Heat, the hope is that their 2022 playoff journey is just beginning. Miami looks like a real threat to come out of the East this season. If that were to happen, it would give the organization its second trip to the NBA Finals in three seasons.
The Heat are waiting to find out who they’ll face in the next round of the playoffs. It’ll be either the Philadelphia 76ers or Toronto Raptors. The Sixers currently have a 3-2 series lead over the Raptors.