Hawks grab No. 7 seed in East playoffs, hold off Heat 116-105

Atlanta Hawks coach Quin Snyder gestures to players during the first half of the team's NBA basketball play-in tournament game against the Miami Heat, Tuesday, April 11, 2023, in Miami. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)

Quin Snyder’s bags were packed in February for an overseas trip. He was going to spend time with some friends and family, see some coaches he’s gotten to know over the years.

Then the Atlanta Hawks called with a job offer, to bring him on as coach.

And now Snyder’s bags are packed again — for the playoffs, starting with a trip to Boston.

Trae Young scored 25 points, Clint Capela grabbed 21 rebounds and the Hawks earned the No. 7 seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs by beating the Miami Heat 116-105 in a play-in tournament game Tuesday night.

“Our guys are trying to be the best version of ourselves at the end of the year,” Snyder said. “The year’s not over. So hopefully we can take this and continue to build on it. It’s one game — but it was our game.”

Dejounte Murray added 18 points for the Hawks, who avenged a five-game Round 1 loss to Miami last season and earned an East first-round matchup with Boston that will start Saturday.

Kyle Lowry scored 33 points — his highest-scoring game in his two Miami seasons — for the Heat, who will host either Toronto or Chicago on Friday to decide the No. 8 seed and a spot against top overall seed Milwaukee in Round 1. The Raptors and Bulls play Wednesday; the winner of Friday’s game opens the series against the Bucks on Sunday.

Tyler Herro scored 26 for Miami, and Jimmy Butler finished with 21.

“Come Friday, we have to play the legit exact opposite of how we played tonight,” Butler said.

For the Hawks, four reserves — Saddiq Bey, Bogdan Bogdanovic, Onyeka Okongwu and Jalen Johnson — combined for 53 points.

The Hawks improved to 3-0 all-time in play-in tournament games; that’s the best mark in the league, one that New Orleans can match when it plays host to Oklahoma City on Wednesday night.

And they earned this one on the boards. Atlanta outrebounded Miami 63-39, including 22-6 on the offensive glass that keyed a 26-6 edge in second-chance points.

“We all understand the moment and the time of year it is,” Young said. “Credit our guys for being locked in, ready and focused on the game plan.”

The Hawks took two timeouts in the first 3:53 of the third quarter, as most of what was a 24-point lead with 2:37 left in the first half — 63-39 Atlanta was the margin — got whittled away, and fast.

Miami cut the margin to 15 by halftime, then opened the third quarter on a 16-6 run. Add it all up, and it was a 27-8 run in about 7 minutes of play to get the Heat within 71-66.

But the Hawks had an answer then, and every other time the Heat made a run. The Atlanta lead was 13 again going into the fourth, and when Miami was within six midway through the final quarter, the Hawks scored five straight to restore a double-digit edge.

And now, a team that was the East’s No. 1 seed last spring is one game from elimination.

“Nothing about this season has been easy,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “We’re going to do this the hard way.”


Hawks: It was the second time this season that Atlanta took a huge first-half lead and nearly wasted it all. The Hawks were up 26 over Miami on Jan. 16, let the Heat get within four in the final moments and held on to win 121-113. … Capela had one 20-rebound game in the regular season.

Heat: Lowry came off the bench in a postseason game for the first time since 2009. His last 94 appearances after the regular season were all starts. … The Heat went 1-6 this season against Friday’s possible win-or-go-home opponents — 0-3 against Chicago and 1-3 against Toronto.

Looking ahead

Boston went 3-0 against Atlanta this season, and nearly all the rotation players from both teams missed at least one of those contests. Young averaged 31 points and 11 assists in two games against the Celtics; Jayson Tatum averaged 26.5 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists in two games against the Hawks.

It’ll be the 13th series between the Celtics and Hawks franchises, the first since Atlanta’s six-game Round 1 win in 2016.

Play-in history

Miami became the 16th franchise to participate in the play-in tournament. Chicago, Toronto and Oklahoma City will stretch that list out to 19 teams on Wednesday. That leaves only Dallas, Denver, Detroit, Houston, Milwaukee, New York, Orlando, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Sacramento and Utah as clubs who have yet to be part of the play-in event.

Up next

Hawks: Visit Boston for Game 1 of an East first-round series Saturday.

Heat: Host either Toronto or Chicago in an elimination game Friday.

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