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Preview: Hawks return home to face Heat

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NBA: Atlanta Hawks at Miami Heat Rhona Wise-USA TODAY Sports

The Atlanta Hawks (32-27) play the Miami Heat (31-28) Friday evening, looking to find a way to win despite losing Trae Young for the foreseeable future in Wednesday’s loss to the New York Knicks. The Heat come in winners of their last three games, potentially poised to find their form ahead of the postseason.

Miami would be part of the play-in tournament if the playoffs started today, something they probably would rather not deal with as defending Eastern Conference champions, and they have been playing motivated basketball of late.

The Hawks have still won seven out of their last ten games despite the loss on Wednesday, and sit as the No. 5 seed in the East. They are just one game ahead of the Heat in the standings, and could potentially fall to the No. 7 seed in a hurry if they string together a couple of losses in the absence of Young.

Miami will be a tough opponent as Atlanta once again is forced into combat with a short-handed group. The Hawks have missed significant time from several contributors this season, but losing their offensive engine in such a key part of the season may be their biggest test yet as a group.

The Heat don’t look like a great team on paper, as they rank just 20th in the NBA with a +0.7 net rating, but they have been better of late and obviously feature mostly the same group that went to the NBA Finals just last season. Jimmy Butler missed some time early in the year — including both games against Atlanta — but he is in the midst of another fantastic season, as is Bam Adebayo.

Injuries

For Atlanta, Trae Young (left ankle sprain) is out. Clint Capela (back contusion) and Danilo Gallinari (right foot soreness) are questionable. Tony Snell (right ankle sprain) is doubtful. De’Andre Hunter, Kris Dunn and Cam Reddish remain out.

For the Heat, Tyler Herro (foot) is questionable. Victor Oladipo (knee) is out. Gabe Vincent (knee) is probable.

The Line

Most books have yet to post a line, presumably due to Capela (and to some extent Gallinari) being questionable for the Hawks. Miami will likely be favored, but the status of Capela will impact the exact number quite a bit, as he has a reasonable argument as the Hawks’ most important player this season and is the core of their defense.

Game Info

Game Date/Time: Friday, Apr. 23, 7:30 pm ET

Location: State Farm Arena

TV: Bally Sports Southeast, NBA League Pass (out of market)

Radio: 92.9 The Game (Atlanta); Hawks Radio Network

Streaming: Fox Sports Go