The Atlanta Hawks won two games in the Play-In Tournament to qualify for the Eastern Conference Playoffs as the #8 seed, but now they square off against the #1 Miami Heat in a tough first-round series.

Miami Heat Atlanta Hawks NBA Playoffs First Round Series Tyler Herro Jimmy Butler
Jimmy Butler and Tyler Herro from the Miami Heat are on a mission to return to the NBA Finals for a second time in the last three seasons. (Image: Getty)

The Heat were 3-1 against the Hawks in the regular season series. In the playoffs, the Hawks are 2-0 against the Heat with first-round victories in 1994 and 2009.

#8 Atlanta Hawks (43-39) at #1 Miami Heat (53-29)
2022 NBA Playoffs Series Odds
Atlanta Hawks +300 Miami Heat -370


Hawks/Heat Series Schedule (Best of 7)
  • Game 1: April 17 – Hawks at Heat
  • Game 2: April 19 – Hawks at Heat
  • Game 3: April 22 – Heat at Hawks
  • Game 4: April 24 – Heat at Hawks
  • Game 5: April 26 – Hawks at Heat
  • Game 6: April 28 – Heat at Hawks
  • Game 7: April 30 – Hawks at Heat

Even though the Heat are the #1 seed in the Eastern Conference, they’re sixth on the NBA futures board at +1000 odds to win the 2022 NBA championship. The Hawks are long shots at +12000 odds to win the title.

The Heat are third on the board at +400 odds to win the Eastern Conference and return to the NBA Finals for the second time since 2020. The Hawks are +5500 odds to win the conference.

Trae Young: Embracing the Black Hat

In old western films, the good guy wore the white hat and the bad guy or villain donned the black hat. If NBA players wore cowboy hats during games, Trae Young would wear a black hat for the playoffs. Some players get freaked out when the boobirds come out in force, but it fires up Young. He embraced his role of the villain last year when the Hawks knocked out the Knicks in the first round. The Hawks were able to feed off an energized Young and parlayed it into a berth in the Eastern Conference Finals.

“Trae lives for these moments,” said Hawks head coach Nate McMillan. “He is built for this moment. Doesn’t shy away from it.”

It’s been a disappointing 2021-22 season for the Hawks, and they nearly missed the playoffs, but snagged the #8 seed through the Play-In Tournament.

“It’s exciting,” said Young. “We get another opportunity. They’ve been clicking on all cylinders, especially here recently. They’ve gotten a little bit more rest than we have so we’ve got to be ready to bring it. We know the crowd’s going to be crazy, the environment’s going to be fun, so we’ve got to be ready to be locked in and take care of business.”

The Hawks might not have John Collins (plantar fasciitis and a knuckle injury) ready for the first round, and Clint Capela hyper-extended his knee in the Play-In Tournament finale. Without two important big men, the Hawks will rely on Young and their sharpshooters like Kevin Huerter to shoot their way to victory.

Miami Heat: Seeking Return to NBA Finals

Jimmy Butler and the Miami Heat got hot in the 2020 NBA Playoffs with a trip to the NBA Finals before losing to LeBron James and the LA Lakers. They might’ve been ahead of schedule that season, but this current squad is ready to complete unfinished business.

“We all want to win a championship,” said Butler. “That’s our goal. Kyle has been telling us how to make it happen along with Keiff, along with Tuck, along with UD. All the champions that we do have. We’ve got great leadership and we got to find a way to get 16 of them.”

“This is what you’re here for,” said Kyle Lowry. “Championships is what you play for. This is what you train for. These are the situations that you look forward to.”

The Heat could’ve swept their season series against the Hawks, but they did not have Lowry or Tyle Herro in their sole loss. Herro (20.7 ppg) has been shooting lights out as the Heat’s Sixth Man, and he’s a virtual lock to win the prestigious NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year award.

The Heat are the second-biggest betting favorite to win their first-round series against the Hawks according to DraftKings’ Series Markets board. Only the Milwaukee Bucks are a bigger favorite in the opening round.

If the Hawks do not have Collins and Capela for multiple games, the Heat have a shot at a sweep. Even with Capela in the lineup for the Hawks, the Heat should lock this up in five games.

Check out more of OG’s coverage of the 2022 NBA Playoffs.