MIAMI (CBSMiami/AP) – The Miami Heat are in much better shape than more experts thought they would be.READ MORE: Miami-Dade Bus Driver Accused Of Molesting 7-Year-Old Girl
Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade are playing at a high level without LeBron James, though the Miami Heat are still searching for some consistency on offense.
The Atlanta Hawks, meanwhile, have played solid defense during a seesaw start.
As the Heat try to regroup from an ugly loss to an Eastern Conference rival, the potentially short-handed Hawks can remain undefeated at home with a fourth straight win overall Friday night.
Wade is averaging 22.5 points and 7.0 assists in his last four games, and Bosh’s season averages have begun to resemble those of his years with Toronto, helping Miami (5-3) get off to a solid start following James’ return to Cleveland.
Bosh averaged 22.8 points and 9.9 rebounds in his final four seasons with the Raptors before those numbers dipped to 17.3 points and 7.4 boards during the four years he spent playing alongside James.
Now he’s averaging 21.8 points and 9.3 rebounds, though he’s coming off season lows of nine points and two boards in a 81-75 loss to Indiana on Wednesday that marked the Heat’s lowest point total in a regular-season home game since Feb. 27, 2010.
“You have to figure out a way to pull a few of these games out throughout the year,” said Wade, who scored a game-high 20. “We didn’t do that, but hopefully next time we’re in this situation, we learn and we figure out a way.”
Bosh, a nine-time All-Star, has scored 24.2 points per game on 49.4 percent shooting in Miami’s victories, but just 17.7 while shooting 40.0 percent in the losses.READ MORE: Partial Roof Collapse At Miami Coin Laundry In Strip Mall, Inspectors Condemned Building
He’ll need to play a bit better Friday than his last three visits to Atlanta. He’s averaged 12.7 points and 5.7 rebounds in those games.
That may prove difficult against Atlanta, which has allowed an average of 93.5 points in regulation over its last six games. The Hawks (4-3) tightened things up in the fourth quarter Wednesday, limiting Utah to nine points in a 100-97 home win.
Paul Millsap came up big against his former team with season highs of 30 points and 17 rebounds as Atlanta extended its win streak after a 1-3 start. He’s totaled 49 points in his last two games after averaging 13.4 on 38.7 percent shooting in his first five.
“I was really just going after the ball and being aggressive,” Millsap said. “I just got back to doing the things that got me here – getting dirty and getting rebounds.”
Three-point threats DeMarre Carroll (groin) and Mike Scott (back) could miss their second straight game when the Hawks look to start 4-0 at home for the first time since winning their first seven in 2009.
Kyle Korver finished with 17 points, 10 rebounds, six assists and four 3-pointers Wednesday, including the winning 3 with 58 seconds left. He’s hit 26 of 47 from beyond the arc for the Hawks, who are among NBA leaders at 40.8 percent shooting from long range.
They’ve also excelled at moving the ball with 23.9 assists per game – one of the best marks in the league. Those numbers could be tested against a Miami team which has held opponents to 91.3 points and 29.2 percent shooting from 3-point range in its last four.
Jeff Teague, who had 17 points Wednesday, scored 25 to key a 98-85 home win in the most recent meeting April 12. The Hawks have won the past two matchups after dropping the previous nine.
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