“We know the game is never over until the red light comes on and the clock goes to zero.” This sentence of Ja Morant pronounced after the “comeback” of the Grizzlies in Minnesota the day before took a very particular echo in Atlanta this night, where the Hawks, on the verge of 0-3 after counting up to 16 points behind in the third quarter, finally managed to finish strong to snatch the victory and stay alive in the series against the Heat.
Nate McMillan’s troops first had to do what was necessary to stay alive after the Heat’s whirlwind start, led by the Herro-Butler-Adebayo trio (12-20). Atlanta then had the merit of not diving from the start, gradually returning through Bogdan Bogdanovic and Kevin Huerter to return to equality then Delon Wright, author of two baskets in a row, to take control (37-31) .
Atlanta had its highlight in turn, on a 10-0 marked by two (very) distant baskets from the Young-Bogdanovic pair (49-38) and it was up to the Heat to limit the damage before the break. Max Strus and Tyler Herro then worked to bring the Floridians back to -7 at rest time (61-54). Until this run which changed the course of the meeting.
It was indeed via a 21-0 past in the middle of the third quarter that the Heat confirmed their return to business, with a series of good sequences in defense which generated easy attacks, including the 3-pointers of the tandem Lowry-Strus, the baskets of PJ Tucker, the dunk of Max Strus in transition and the lay-up of Tyler Herro (68-84).
In turn, the Hawks had to gather their last strength to prolong the suspense, between De’Andre Hunter’s 3-pointer, Trae Young’s 2+1 and his lob pass for Delon Wright to bring the locals back under the bar 10 points difference 12 minutes from the end (77-85).
Little by little, the locals then managed to catch up, on the exploits of Bogdan Bogdanovic behind the arc and Trae Young, author of the 3-point equalizer at 104-104, without forgetting the three baskets of Onyeka Onkongwu including his 2+1 to put his team in the lead (107-104). 3-pointers from Jimmy Butler and PJ Tucker in the corner put Miami back in front at the start of the last minute (109-110).
The last word finally went to Trae Young, who scored the winning floater in transition while Jimmy Butler will miss his last two attempts, letting the victory slip away at the end of the suspense (111-110).
WHAT YOU MUST REMEMBER
– The Young-Tucker duel. PJ Tucker helped limit a still struggling Trae Young for most of the first three quarters. But in the final, the Hawks point guard regained his luster by finding the 3-point distance and going for a 2 + 1 in the nose and beard of the NBA champion. PJ Tucker almost had the last laugh by scoring his team’s last basket from his garden. But Trae Young finally answered him to snatch the victory. Long live the sequel!
– The Hawks caring. After conceding 18 then 19 ball losses in the first two games, the Hawks knew they had to rectify the situation on this point and succeeded in their game on this side. Even if the meeting was played at nothing, the men of Nate McMillan can be satisfied to have taken more care of the ball with “only” 11 turnovers on arrival. Such a close game is also played on small details, and with the right defense in the money-time, this was one.
– The delayed match. Due to the presence of a suspicious package, the start of the meeting was delayed by more than half an hour. All the spectators remained outside while a demining team carried out checks. Result: in between, the 20,000 spectators were not yet in their places.
– Kyle Lowry gets injured. The Heat point guard is hit in the hamstrings. The same injury as Devin Booker. We do not yet know the duration of his unavailability.
✅ The Young-Bogdanovic pair. The first was able to find solutions to once again have an impact in scoring and finally register the winning basket. The second sometimes held his team at arm’s length, especially when he had to row to get back in the game between the end of the third quarter and the start of the fourth.
✅ The Wright-Okongwu duo. The two X factors of the evening, with a 6/6 shooting for Delon Wright and relays that were like breaths of fresh air for the Hawks, and a 4/4 for Onyeka Okongwu who plays a difficult role in the absence of Clint Capela but got away with it like a leader, with for him also a strong impact in the stunning final of Atlanta. The Hawks’ two best +/- tonight.
⛔ Gabe Vincent and the Heat shooters. The two teams shot a lot, without success, from afar, but the Heat probably abused the outside option, with a 14/45 from afar which is a stain, even in a playoff game. And Gabe Vincent’s 0/5 illustrates this forced strategy quite well.
Game 4 will take place on Sunday (1:00 a.m.) in Atlanta.