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Heat Ready for Round Two, Hawks Look to Tie Series

With its 88-77 win over the Milwaukee Bucks on Sunday, the Miami Heat swept Round 1 and will advance to Round 2 this weekend.

LeBron James scored 30 points (13 for 20), eight rebounds, seven assists with three steals. Ray Allen followed with 16 points (his third double-digit game) with 4 for 7 of 3-pointers. Udonis Haslem contributed 13 points with five rebounds while Mario Chalmers added eight rebounds with six assists for Miami.

James said of the sweep via ESPN, “It was our next big step as far as our growth. It’s so hard to win on the road in the playoffs, in someone’s building — especially when someone is playing for their last life. It’s a big step for us.”

Heat LeBron James

Heat LeBron James

Throughout the four-game series, the Heat won every game by double digits. They played without Dwyane Wade on Sunday due to a sore right knee but he has been receiving treatment and is expected to be ready for Round 2.

Lucky for the Heat, especially Wade, they’ll have a nice break as Game 1 for Round 2 will likely begin on Saturday. The team has now won eight consecutive postseason games going back to last season–a tie for the team’s record.

The Heat continue to be the team to beat in the NBA Playoffs and sit at -175 for a repeat.

Next up for the the team is the winner of the Brooklyn Nets vs. Chicago Bulls series. The Bulls lead 3-1 and the two teams will play on Monday night.

As for the Bulls vs. the Nets game, after their epic triple overtime game on Saturday, the Nets return home and will take the win (-5.5, 180 o/u) on Monday.

In other Monday games, there’s the Indiana Pacers vs. the Atlanta Hawks series. It’s Game 4 and the Pacers lead the series 2-1.

The Hawks will host the Pacers, which for them is a good thing as they have won 12 consecutive games against them since 2006. And after limping to the end of the regular season with lackluster play, the Hawks are finally fighting in the playoffs.

On Saturday in Game 3, the Hawks pounded the Pacers, 90-69. The Hawks Al Horford was the game’s MVP with 26 points and 16 rebounds.

A nail was put in the coffin by halftime as the Hawks entered the break leading 54-30. This set a team record for the least amount of points allowed in the first half from a playoff game.

For the Pacers, this was a tie for their lowest scoring effort in the first half for a postseason game. They endured low shooting at 27 percent (22 for 81) and lots of turnovers (22 times), which led to 24 points by the Hawks.

In Game 3, the Hawks made some tweaks to their lineup including the placing of Johan Petro at center role due to his size and taking off the bench, 3-point specialist Kyle Korver played more. Hot head Ivan Johnson was also a difference maker as he came off the bench and scored seven points with seven rebounds.

Hawks Ivan Johnson

Hawks Ivan Johnson

Johnson, 29, is still pretty green as he’s only been in the NBA for two years after a recent basketball career in Korea.

Look for the Hawks to keep their lineup changes with Petro again at center while Horford will switch to power forward and Josh Smith will move over to small forward on Monday. Johnson is likely to again play an integral role as he brings a lot of energy to the court.

The Pacers know he can have an effect on the game and Pacers Paul George said of Johnson, “He’s a great energy guy, a guy that just constantly battles. He’s an emotional player. The whole team feeds off his energy and his motor.”

Playing at home will be a good thing for the Hawks as they’ll get the win to tie the series (-2, 186 o/u) but they are +17500 to win it all.


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