Jimmy Butler and the Miami Heat found themselves in a more competitive Game 2 against the Atlanta Hawks after the Game 1 destruction. However, the Heat pulled out a 115-105 win to go up 2-0 in the series.
Miami got 45 points from Butler, a playoff career high. The Heat didn’t totally shut down Trae Young this time around, but it still wasn’t a great night for him.
With Miami up 2-0, the series shifts to Atlanta. The Hawks are hoping playing on their home court will get them back in the series after they played so well at home in the regular season (27-14), but the Heat are going to the ATL with dreams of a sweep. Here’s why it looks like Miami could pull one off.
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Reasons Heat could sweep Hawks
Jimmy Butler is controlling the series
Butler put on a masterclass performance in Game 2 with his 45 points. He shot 15-of-25 from the field and 11-of-12 from the foul line while also adding five rebounds and five assists. The Heat outscored the Hawks by 19 points in his 39 minutes on the floor, and it was a late 7-0 run by Butler that put the game away in crunch time.
Perhaps the craziest part about Butler’s performance was his 4-of-7 mark from 3-point range. Butler only took 2.0 3s per game in the regular season and shot 23.3% on them. He did start taking and making a few more at the end of the regular season, though, and that’s translating over to the playoffs.
Butler’s monster Game 2 came after a stellar Game 1 in which Miami also crushed Atlanta with him on the court to the tune of a plus-27 in 33 minutes. He stuffed the stat sheet with 21 points, six rebounds, four assists and three steals. About the only downside of his night was his 2-of-7 from the charity stripe.
The Heat have now outscored the Hawks by 46 points in Butler’s 72 minutes. He’s still one of the best two-way players in the game and is putting his imprint on this series. De’Andre Hunter is a good defender who has taken the primary Butler assignment, but he has had nothing for him. If Butler keeps playing like this, the series will be short.
Miami poured in 18 3-pointers on 38 attempts in Game 1, with Duncan Robinson hitting eight of those, a franchise record in the playoffs. The Heat weren’t as hot in Game 2 from beyond the arc, but they knocked down another 14 out of 36 attempts.
Butler’s surprise onslaught from deep obviously played a key role in this, but they also managed to hit 14 triples despite Robinson and Tyler Herro combining to hit one measly trey. In fact, Robinson put up a goose egg in just seven minutes of action after his Game 1 explosion.
As they have all season, the Heat got major contributions from a few unsung heroes. Max Strus, who took Robinson’s place in the starting lineup earlier this season, scored 14 points and hit three treys. Gabe Vincent also hit three triples and scored 11 points off the bench.
Miami has so many different guys who can make it rain from 3-point land. The Heat finished the regular season No. 1 in 3-point percentage at 37.9%, and they become even more dangerous if Butler is taking and making treys.
Meanwhile, the Hawks actually finished second in 3-point percentage this season, but they’ve been cold through two games (28.9%). Some of that is variance, but Miami’s aggressive defense is making Atlanta uncomfortable offensively. The Hawks just have to hope they will shoot better from long range on their home court.
Trae Young is frustrated
The Heat flustered into Young into his worst game of the season in Game 1, holding him to eight points on 1-of-12 shooting and 0-of-7 from 3 while forcing six turnovers. Game 2 saw him go for 25 points on 10-of-20 shooting, but he was still only 2-of-10 from 3 and turned it over a whopping 10 times.
After the game, Young complained about the officiating (somewhat ironic) and lamented the Heat’s ability to play so physical without getting fouls called. That’s Miami’s game plan and that kind of stuff often gets more of a pass in the playoffs. Young went just 3-of-4 from the line and has taken 11 free throws in the series, with the Heat getting 29 attempts to 14 for the Hawks in Game 2 (though total fouls were close to even). Atlanta did have the advantage in Game 1, though, taking 27 freebies to 19 for Miami.
Either way, Young is going to have to shake this off and figure out a way to break loose of this Heat defense. That’s much easier said than done, but maybe he’ll get a friendlier whistle in Atlanta.
Clint Capela being hurt takes away the Hawks’ defensive anchor and a big-time rebounder. Jimmy Butler doesn’t face as much resistance on his drives without Capela out there, especially when Atlanta goes with a gimpy John Collins at center.
The Hawks inserted Collins in the starting lineup over Onyeka Okongwu for Game 2, but it didn’t change a whole lot. Collins is battling out there but isn’t 100%, making life way more difficult for Atlanta. With Capela still out and Collins not at full strength, this Hawks team isn’t nearly as dangerous and will continue to struggle against Miami.