Atlanta Hawks (41-41) at Miami Heat (44-38)
The Hawks finished the regular season with 41 wins and 41 losses, which does sum up their performance. They were wildly inconsistent but need to step up in a tough road playoff game. There's no doubt they can score points as they averaged 118 pts per game. Trae Young is the leader of the offence and comes off averaging 25.3 in his last 3 games. But defensively is where they struggle, having conceded 118.1 pts during the regular season. So they'll need to find a way of stopping the likes of Butler and Herro.
The Heat head into the play-in tournament as comfortable favourites against the Hawks. They held a dominant home record in Miami this season at 27-14 and also beat Atlanta in the 2 games at this venue during the regular season. Jimmy Butler will be the key for the Heat in this playoff game and he comes off some good form in the latter stages of the season. He averaged 28.7 pts in his last 3 games and put up 26 pts / 10 boards in the last game against the Hawks.
Jimmy Buckets gets a great matchup in this home playoff game against the leaky Hawks and 30+ pts looks good value. He's cleared 30+ pts in 2 of his last 3 home games and hit the 30+ mark in 2 of his 4 playoff games against the Hawks last season. He has also beat 30+ pts in his last 2 playoff games.
Miami are 6-1 in their last 7 at home. Atlanta has lost their last 5 at this venue.
Head to Head Record
The Heat have owned the Hawks with 8 wins in the last 10 meetings.
Minnesota Timberwolves (42-40) at Los Angeles Lakers (43-39)
The Timberwolves sealed up the #8 seed in the West with a 113-108 win over the Pelicans but team chemistry will be something to watch. Rudy Gobert and Kyle Anderson had an altercation during the victory so it will be interesting to see how the team responds. Gobert has been suspended as a result so that's a blow to their defence against the likes of Davis, especially with Naz Reid on the sidelines. Jaden McDaniels is also out with a hand injury.
The Lakers hit the playoffs as one of the form teams in the West. They won 8 of their last 10 games and should be very confident on their home court. Overall, they went 23-18 at home this season and that's despite plenty of injuries to the likes of LeBron and Davis. However, they're both healthy now and in good form. LeBron comes off scoring 30+ pts in 3 of his last 4 outings. Meanwhile, Davis has collected 10+ boards in 4 straight as well as averaging 2.6 blocks in their 5 games.
It's hard to trust the Timberwolves with so much team adversity surrounding them at the moment. A matchup with LeBron in the playoffs is never easy either, despite his age. Davis also gets a good matchup without Gobert/Reid on the court and he scored 38 pts in the most recent meeting (123-111). So it looks like the Lakers can do this easily on their home court and set up a matchup with the Grizzlies.
Los Angeles have won 5 of their last 6 at home. Minnesota holds a poor 8-17 record at this venue against the Lakers.
Head to Head Record
The Timberwolves are 2-1 in the season series and beat them at this venue in March (110-102).