Kevin C. Cox
Two of the top teams in the Eastern Conference will do battle when the Atlanta Hawks visit the Miami Heat on Monday.
The Atlanta Hawks have won nine out of their last 10, including a win over the Memphis Grizzlies on Saturday in which they overcame a six-point halftime deficit and played "Hawks basketball" in the final two quarters, according to point guard Jeff Teague.
Hawks basketball consisted of Teague and Lou Williams crashing the rim and making three-pointers while swarming the ball on the defense end. Williams had 21 points off the bench for the Hawks and was 4-of-6 from three-point territory, while the defense held Memphis to just 42.9 percent shooting from the field.
Atlanta has yet to allow a team to shoot better than 50.0 percent from the floor this season.
The Heat lead the league in three-point shooting, as they are making 41.8 percent of their attempts as a team while relying on LeBron James and Dwyane Wade to continually create open opportunities for perimeter scorers Mike Miller, Ray Allen, Shane Battier and Mario Chalmers.
The Hawks have enough quickness on the perimeter with Williams, Teague and Josh Smith to close out on shooters while subsequently spreading Miami out on the defense end of the floor to create driving opportunities for their speedy guards.
Josh Smith will likely see one-on-one time with LeBron, as he has the rare speed to stay with James on the perimeter and strength to guard him in the post.
The Heat defeated the Hawks, 95-89, on Nov. 9 as Atlanta chose to match the Heat by going small with Al Horford at center and Zaza Pachulia coming off the bench. However, it will be interesting to see if the Hawks try to muscle the Heat inside on Monday with a front court of Pachulia, Horford and Smith as opposed to attempting to match up at every position. Miami has struggled with bigger teams this season, as they have lost to the Los Angeles Clippers, Memphis Grizzlies and the New York Knicks twice.
The Hawks and Heat will tip-off at 7:30 p.m. ET on Monday.