|Date of game: 4/12/2014
Miami Heat (54-25) at Atlanta Hawks (36-43), 7:30 p.m. (ET)
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Miami Heat reclaimed the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference and could get an early look at their first-round playoff opponent Saturday night when they visit Philips Arena to face the Atlanta Hawks.
Miami's victory over the Pacers on Friday night pushed the two-time defending NBA champions a half-game ahead of Indiana in the battle for Eastern Conference supremacy.
The Hawks have won two in a row and are two games ahead of the New York Knicks in the race for the eighth and final postseason berth. If Atlanta hangs on, and Miami finishes first in the East, the Hawks would play the Heat in the first round.
The Heat took their much-ballyhooed matchup over the reeling Pacers, 98-86, in South Beach. Miami now controls its own destiny and will visit the Washington Wizards on Monday, then close the season at home against the Philadelphia 76ers on Wednesday.
Despite being without Dwyane Wade for a ninth straight game because of a hamstring injury, the Heat pulled away courtesy of a lopsided third quarter.
LeBron James scored 13 of his 36 points in the frame, which saw the Heat turn a three-point halftime cushion into a lead that grew to 23 points.
"The first half was a heck of a half ... Our defense was on point, with the deflections, the pressure, the rotations. In the second half, we just continued with that pressure and finally broke it open," Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra said.
Mario Chalmers finished with 13 points, five rebounds and five assists, while Udonis Haslem netted 11 points with nine boards in the resounding win. Chris Bosh and Ray Allen both chipped in 10 points.
The Hawks have won two straight and four of their last five.
On Friday, they halted the Brooklyn Nets' franchise-record 15-game home winning streak with a 93-88 triumph at the Barclays Center. Their magic number is down to one.
"The focus that it took to lock in, compete and to get this win, it says a lot," said Atlanta's Paul Millsap. "Guys want to win, guys want to try to make this push."
Millsap posted 27 points and 10 rebounds and Jeff Teague scored 22 points to lead the Hawks to victory. DeMarre Carroll added 12 points and 10 boards for Atlanta.
The Hawks close the season with a home game against the Charlotte Bobcats on Monday and end the campaign with a Wednesday road contest against the lowly Milwaukee Bucks.
The Heat have won 11 of the last 13 meetings against the Hawks, who stopped a nine-game series losing streak with a seven-point victory in Atlanta on Jan. 20.
That win also snapped a seven-game home losing streak against Miami.