Miami Heat catch big break ahead of matchup vs. Atlanta Hawks

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Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

The Miami Heat have caught a big break ahead of their matchup versus the Atlanta Hawks on Friday, as the Hawks will be without arguably their best player in guard Trae Young.

Young has been one of the better point guards in the NBA so far during the 2023-24 regular season, his sixth season in the pros. He is averaging 27.2 points, 3.1 rebounds and 10.9 assists per game while shooting 42.1 percent from the field and 35.9 percent from deep.

The 25-year-old is averaging the second-most assists per game of any player in the NBA this season, behind only Indiana Pacers floor general Tyrese Haliburton, who is dishing out 12.5 assists per game. Young has dished out 10-plus assists in each of his last three games and finished with 12 in the Hawks’ most recent game against the Orlando Magic on Jan. 17.

At 17-23, the Hawks have underperformed from a collective standpoint so far, but the team has been playing solid basketball of late. Atlanta has won its last two games, as before beating the Magic by two points, the Hawks picked up a 10-point win over Victor Wembanyama and the San Antonio Spurs.

Unlike the Hawks, the Heat aren’t on a winning streak. The team is fresh off an embarrassing 24-point road loss to the Toronto Raptors on Jan. 17.

Miami had trouble scoring the ball, as it ended up with just 97 points on the game. Jimmy Butler, Bam Adebayo and Tyler Herro led the Heat in scoring against the Raptors with 16 points each.

Conversely, Gary Trent Jr. led Toronto in scoring with 28 points and eight 3-pointers in 31 minutes of playing time. RJ Barrett finished right behind him with 26 points on 9-of-14 shooting from the field.

Considering the Heat will be at home when they take on the Hawks on Friday, coupled with the fact that Atlanta will be without one of its top players, Miami should be able to earn a decisive win before it takes on the Magic on the road on Sunday.

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Jesse is a 23-year-old sports journalist with extensive experience covering the NBA.