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Heat vs. Hawks Picks & Predictions January 16: Heat to Stymy Trae Young and Defeat Hawks

Best Bet: Heat +1 at -110 with BetOnline

Miami Heat vs. Atlanta Hawks
Monday, January 16, 2023 at 2:30 p.m. ET at State Farm Arena in Atlanta

The Importance of Trae Young

It is well-known that point guard Trae Young is Atlanta's most important player.

He averages 7.3 more points per game than any other Hawk scorer.

This productivity is, to an extent, a product of his volume: he also attempts more shots than any of his teammates.

Moreover, his teammates rely on his distribution. He easily leads the team in assists per game.

Now, there isn't always a correlation between the number of points and assists that Young gets and the result of his team's games.

Sometimes Young is productive and Atlanta still loses because of its defense, as I will discuss.

But clearly Young's effectivity is crucial to his team's chances of winning.

Miami Has Young's Number

The Heat are quite aware of Young's importance to Atlanta's offense.

When they faced Atlanta in the first round of last year's playoffs, they dedicated multiple good defenders to limiting Young.

In the regular season last year, Young averaged 28.4 points and 9.7 assists per game.

Against Miami in the playoffs -- the series lasted five games, with Miami winning the series 4-1 -- Young mustered 15.4 points and six assists.

Young's struggles against the Heat defense are not confined to the postseason, nor were they solely evident last season.

Atlanta and Miami have met once already this season.

On November 27, the Hawks hosted the Heat.

Miami, in that game, defeated Atlanta 106-98 while limiting Young to his worst two- and three-point shooting percentages of the month.

What Does Miami Do?

Young can be difficult for teams to contain because of the many ways in which he can score.

He can be efficient from deep. He can be slippery coming off screens, slithering his way to the basket where he can finish, lob it to a teammate, or pull up from midrange.

His versatility explains why teams require multiple defenders to keeping him in check.

Miami has the defensive personnel to stop Young because.

The team is versatile in that it has positionless defenders who can switch one-through-five on ball screens.

In particular, different Heat players ably keep Young out of the paint or they send double teams his way inside the arc, forcing him to pass the ball to a teammate.

Also, when he does get inside the paint, he encounters the willful physicality of defenders like five-time All-Defensive second-teamer Jimmy Butler.

Young Needs Help

Other Hawk scorers need to step up to alleviate Young of his scoring responsibilities.

But Atlanta misses Danilo Gallinari and Kevin Huerter.

Both are effective, higher-volume three-point shooters with career three-point percentages exceeding 38.

Without either play -- Gallinari is a Celtic and Huerter a King -- Atlanta has declined from second in three-point percentage last season to 26thin the category this season.

Their three-point percentage decline undermines the potential effectivity of drive-and-kick actions from him or, for that matter, other Hawk drivers like Dejounte Murray.

This decline is unfortunate because Miami's defense allows a high rate of open three-point attempts.

Shooting well from deep is a marked way to defeat the Heat, so Gallinari and Huerter would have added value to Atlanta's offensive endeavors today.

Now, at least on paper, Atlanta isn't completely bereft of shooting weapons.

Shooting guard Bogdan Bogdanovic's health -- he has played in only 19 games so far -- should help.

But he is suffering a terrible January performance.

Bogdanovic, in six January games, has failed to convert a single three-point attempt in three of them.

This month, his three-point conversation rate is 25.7 percent.

Bam Adebayo's Offense

Scoring-wise, Miami can rely on several different players.

Versatile center Bam Adebayo loves facing the Hawks.

As measured by field goals made and field goal percentage, he had one of his best games of the season in his team's earlier game against Atlanta.

Due to his lesser size as a smaller center, he has learned to live in the spaces further from the basket but inside the arc.

But he is also a valuable driver who can get to the basket and earn free throws.

His outlook looks especially positive tonight with Atlanta's top rim protector, Clint Capela, listed as 'out.'

It is true that defenses generally are sending more help inside in order to disturb Adebayo's scoring chances.

However, as evident in his assist numbers, he is an effective distributor.

Tyler Herro Is Back

Miami can benefit from the inside-outside play initiated by Adebayo, because shooting guard Tyler Herro is healthy and ready to go.

Herro is his team's highest-volume and most efficient three-point shooter.

He's making 39.2-percent of his three-point attempts, so his presence helps ensure that Miami outperforms Atlanta from behind the arc.

Turnover Battle

Hawk backers will emphasize that Murray has helped the team's defense even without Capela.

But Miami is not the team for him to thrive against.

Murray thrives on being disruptive -- on causing steals and deflections.

But the Heat are one of the best teams at limiting its own turnovers.

Gabe Vincent

Miami does miss Kyle Lowry, but this is no problem.

Vincent is an effective scorer in his own right -- he scored 27 and 28 points, respectively, in Miami's last two wins over Milwaukee.

In particular, his shooting form adds to the threat that Herro poses from behind the arc.

When the Hawks most recently beat Toronto, they benefitted from the terrible shooting of Toronto's top shooting guard.

But Miami's key personnel look primed to shoot well tonight.

The Verdict

For the above reasons, expect Miami to cover the spread.

The Heat will stop Atlanta's top scoring and distributing option while, on offense, they rely on multiple good shooters behind the arc plus Adebayo and Butler -- Miami won its last game against Atlanta without him -- inside the arc.

Miami's extensive defensive effort and Atlanta's shooting woes will ensure that this game stays "under."

Thus, play the "under" in addition to the Heat ATS.

Best Bet: Under 223 at -110 with BetOnline