The Atlanta Hawks will see if their newfound momentum can carry over Friday when they host the Miami Heat, a team that beat them in back-to-back games a week ago.
Atlanta ended a 10-game homecourt losing streak Monday with a second-half surge against the Milwaukee Bucks, and then did it again Wednesday, when an impressive second half carried them to a 134-122 win over Minnesota. The Hawks jumped out of halftime with a 20-2 run against the Timberwolves to win going away, giving them consecutive wins for the first time in nearly two months.
Miami beat the Portland Trail Blazers 104-92 on Wednesday for their second straight win and sixth in the last seven games. The Heat played without Tyler Herro, who entered the health and safety protocol, and Kyle Lowry, who missed the past two games for personal reasons. Herro will miss the Atlanta game, but Lowry's status is uncertain.
The Hawks won't weep over the absence of Herro. He scored 21 and 24 points against them when the Heat swept a home-and-home series on Jan. 12 and Jan. 14.
But the Heat have Bam Adebayo back in the lineup, a luxury they didn't have the last time against Atlanta. He has played two games since thumb surgery had sidelined him since Nov. 29. Adebayo had 20 points and 11 rebounds against Portland and helped offset the loss of Jimmy Butler, who was ejected after playing only 15 minutes.
"This is the deepest team I've been a part of," said Caleb Martin, who led the team against Portland with 26 points. "Down the line, everybody is nice. ... Like, everybody can hoop. It's just dope to see. On any given night, somebody else is hooping. It's fun."
Miami coach Erik Spoelstra said, "To play for something special, you need depth, you need talent, and I think everybody in our locker room feels extremely capable if we have to go deep into our roster and that's the way it should be.
"Now that's going to require some sacrifice and our guys are emotionally stable to understand that," Spoelstra said. "It doesn't mean there won't be tough days. There will be some tough decisions, but you get nights like this. You get nights where guys are able to contribute and help you win. That's the main thing."
Atlanta understands being shorthanded. The Hawks have been without starting center Clint Capela for the past six games but have seen former No. 1 draft choice Onyeka Okongwu make big strides since he's been healthy.
Okongwu didn't play until Dec. 17 because of offseason shoulder surgery, but after some early tenuous performances he has become increasingly productive. In the past two games, Okongwu has held his own against some of the league's top inside players: On Monday, he fared well against Milwaukee and Giannis Antetokounmpo, recording 12 points, seven rebounds and three blocks in a 121-114 victory, and in Wednesday's win against Minnesota and Karl-Anthony Towns he had 17 points and eight rebounds and five blocked shots.
"Onyeka makes us stronger," Atlanta coach Nate McMillan said. "He's done some good things. His play will challenge Clint to get out there and play, because he's seeing what this young guy is doing and he can come in and play. Clint is our starting '5' and when he comes back we'll see how we work (Okongwu) back into the lineup."
Atlanta's Trae Young had 37 points -- 23 in the third quarter -- and 14 assists against the Timberwolves.
--Field Level Media