MIAMI (AP) — If one play could tell the story of a five-game series, consider this one: Trae Young’s final shot from the field was a corner 3-point try that he rushed because he knew a defender was coming his way.
The shot bounced off the side of the backboard.
Take a bow, Miami. Even without Kyle Lowry and Jimmy Butler, defence carried the day — and carried the Heat into the Eastern Conference semifinals.
Victor Oladipo scored 23 points, Bam Adebayo added 20 points and 11 rebounds, and the Heat moved into Round 2 of the playoffs by eliminating Young and the Atlanta Hawks 97-94 on Tuesday night.
“The biggest thing about this game was our defence,” Adebayo said.
That was, and is, Miami’s plan. The Heat swarmed Young from the start of Game 1 to the end of Game 5, holding Atlanta’s high-octane scorer to a 15.4-point average in the series on 32 per cent shooting. Young had as many assists as he had turnovers — 30 of each.
“They’re a good defensive team,” Young said. “Their team is more of a system than who they have on their team. No matter who they have out there, they can play. … And when they’ve got a guy that they’re targeting and trying to take away, they do a really good job of doing that.”
Tyler Herro scored 16, Max Strus scored 15 and Caleb Martin added 10 for the top-seeded Heat, who got the clincher with Butler and Lowry sitting out with injuries.
Young went 2 for 12 from the floor, scoring just 11 points. De’Andre Hunter scored 35 for Atlanta, which got 12 apiece from Kevin Huerter and Danilo Gallinari.
“Obviously, I didn’t shoot the ball well,” Young said.
Hunter fouled out with 41.6 seconds left, Miami clinging to a three-point lead at the time. The Hawks got a stop, taking over with 29.2 seconds remaining, and retained possession after a missed shot from Gallinari went out of bounds off Miami.
The Hawks never got another shot off, time expired and Miami moved on.
“They are a hell of a team,” Hawks coach Nate McMillan said. “Those guys compete every second that they’re out on the floor and I have a great deal of respect for how they play.”
Onyeka Okongwu’s three-point play got Atlanta within 79-76 early in the fourth, the Hawks clawing back after being down by as many as 15.
But Herro hit a high-arcing jumper from the lane, Miami got a stop, and Oladipo hit a left-wing 3 on the next Heat possession to push the lead back to eight with 7:29 remaining. That’s how the final minutes went: Atlanta made a charge, Miami would hold it off, all the way to the end.
And now, the Heat get nearly a week off before facing either Philadelphia or Toronto in the East semis. Game 1 will be Monday in Miami.
“We’re all committed to the same goal,” Strus said.
The Heat already knew they’d be without Lowry, who missed his second consecutive game with a strained left hamstring. The surprise was Butler, who reported knee soreness to the team on Monday and didn’t see enough improvement to play on Tuesday.
But Butler and Lowry spent the final few minutes of the first half, particularly enjoying what was happening.
A 17-0 Miami run — including 10 in a row from Strus in a span of 67 seconds — turned a three-point deficit into a 54-40 lead late in the second quarter. Miami pushed the lead out to 67-52 on a score by Adebayo with 2:55 left in the third, and the lead was 75-64 going into the fourth.
Atlanta had one last charge to make, getting within two in the final moments — but no closer. Gallinari’s last inbounds pass went to nobody, and the clock ran out.
“I thought it was fitting that we had to get this game with a stop at the end,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said.
Hawks: Clint Capela, who missed the first three games of the series with a right knee injury, left in the third quarter of Game 5 because of continued knee issues. … Atlanta was without Bogdan Bogdanovic (right knee soreness). … Nate McMillan is now 1-8 in postseason games against Spoelstra. The Heat swept McMillan’s Indiana Pacers in Round 1 at the bubble in 2020. … The Hawks went 2-7 against the Heat this season.
Heat: Michigan coach Juwan Howard, the former Miami player and assistant, was in attendance. … It marked the first time Butler had ever been declared inactive for a playoff game. … Miami missed its first eight 3-point tries before Oladipo connected midway through the second quarter. … Martin left just before halftime with an injury around his left hand or wrist, but returned for the second half.
Before this series, Miami had one run of more than 16 consecutive points in its playoff history. It now has three. The Heat had a 21-0 run in Game 3 at Atlanta, and the 17-0 run on Tuesday was the third-largest in team playoff history. Miami had a 19-0 run against New York in 2012, and has had 16-0 runs on four other occasions.
Miami’s Markieff Morris didn’t play, and got a technical foul anyway. Morris was called for an unsportsmanlike play after he grabbed onto Hunter after the Hawks’ forward stepped into the Miami bench area in the third quarter.
Miami beat Atlanta in a series for the first time in three tries. The Hawks had won two previous first-round series that both went to the limit, prevailing 3-2 in 1994 and 4-3 in 2009.
Miami will play host to Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals against Philadelphia or Toronto on Monday.