Preview: Hawks at Heat
The Miami Heat will put their 18-game winning streak and their string of 14 straight home wins on the line when they host the Atlanta Hawks on Tuesday. It could be a preview of a first-round Eastern Conference playoff series if the Hawks don't stop sliding down the standings. Atlanta is tied for sixth place with Boston but is only 1 1/2 games clear of No. 8 Milwaukee after losing two straight and five of six.
Miami is running away from the rest of the East and has a realistic shot at clinching the top seed by the end of the month. The Heat's last loss came Feb. 1 at Indiana, and they've won 11 games by double digits during the winning streak, which is the seventh-longest in NBA history. Atlanta has lost six straight against Miami and is looking to avoid a sweep in the four-game season series.
TV: 7:30 p.m. ET, SportSouth (Atlanta), Sun Sports (Miami), NBA TV
ABOUT THE HAWKS (34-28): Atlanta creates matchup problems in the post with a strong duo of Al Horford (17.4 points, 10.1 rebounds) and Josh Smith (17.3 points, 8.6 rebounds), but the Hawks have lacked depth in the backcourt since losing Lou Williams to a season-ending knee injury in January. Point guard Jeff Teague (14.6 points, seven assists) has been brilliant at times but is inconsistent. Horford has double-doubles in four straight games and nine of his last 13 games, averaging 22.9 points and 11.5 rebounds during that stretch. Reserve center Zaza Pachulia is out indefinitely with a sore right Achilles' tendon.
ABOUT THE HEAT (47-14): Miami appears to be well on its way to the top seed in the playoffs and seems poised to make a run at back-to-back titles. LeBron James (26.7 points, 8.1 rebounds, 7.1 assists) has risen above his colleagues in the "Big Three" and emerged as the team's clear leader, but Dwyane Wade (21.8 points, five rebounds, 4.9 assists) and Chris Bosh (16.9 points, seven rebounds) are still having great seasons. James, who has averaged 27.2 points, 7.7 rebounds and 7.4 assists during the winning streak, has 30 double-doubles and needs one more to tie his career-high mark achieved three times.
1. Miami has defeated every team in the NBA this season, marking the first time it has done so.
2. Atlanta SF Kyle Korver has made 23 consecutive free throws dating to Jan. 21 vs. Minnesota. He also has made a 3-pointer in 55 consecutive games, the longest active streak in the NBA.
3. Wade has at least one steal in 22 consecutive games, the longest streak of his career.
PREDICTION: Heat 101, Hawks 96
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