Miami Heat forward Jimmy Butler (22) passes past Atlanta Hawks center Clint Capela (15) and guard Dejounte Murray (5) during the second half of an NBA basketball game, Monday, March 6, 2023, in Miami. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

Heat Battle Hawks in Play-In Game

The Miami Heat have had a down season from their success over the past few years. In the last three seasons the Heat have made the NBA Finals and Eastern Conference Finals, but find themselves in the play-in game to start to the postseason. The main cast has remained the same with Jimmy Butler leading the line along with Bam Adebayo and Tyler Herro. However, the departure of major role players such as PJ Tucker without many additions to the roster have proved impactful.

The Heat finished the regular season with a 44-38 record and are the No. 7 seed in the Eastern Conference. With their playoff hopes on the line, the Heat come into the play-in game Tuesday against the Atlanta Hawks seeking revenge from a Game 7 loss to the Boston Celtics last year.

Atlanta Hawks

The Atlanta Hawks have had a disappointing season, as well. With the blockbuster addition of guard Dejounte Murray over the summer, the Hawks planned on competing for a top playoff spot in the East this season.

Despite the confidence of the front office in their squad, the Hawks only finished with a 41-41 record and the No. 8 seed in the East. The guard duo of Murray and Trae Young hasn’t been as elite as expected. Young has managed to average 26.2 points per game, but Murray hasn’t been able to improve his defensive woes as well as he should.

The Hawks look like they are in a state of limbo with their .500 record. Atlanta announced Monday that they are looking at options to shop Young this offseason. Heading into the play-in game against Miami, it seems as though Atlanta is not confident in their ability to compete with the rest of the league.

Showdown in Miami

The Heat host the Hawks Tuesday for the rights to play the Boston Celtics in the first round. A Heat win would setup a playoff rematch with the Celtics.

As two of the stars in the NBA, Young and Butler will go head-to-head. Butler has had postseason success in the past, averaging 27.4 points per game last postseason. Although the Heat find themselves in this position, Butler and the rest of the team have confidence they can make another underrated deep postseason run.

Tipoff is at 7:30 p.m. in Miami.

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