The Hawks (15-12, third in the East), are in Miami to take on the defending champs. Our 3-on-3 crew previews the action.
1. Fact or fiction: Dwyane Wade is having the most impressive homestand of any Heat player.
Tom Haberstroh: Fact. Wade is shooting an amazing 60 percent on the Heat's 4-0 homestand, which would draw more attention if it weren't for LeBron James. Basketball scholars will one day refer to this as the Wade Trade-off.
Michael Wallace: Fiction. Wade certainly makes a great case, considering he has averaged more than 25 points while shooting better than 60 percent from the field the past four games. He’s in a remarkable rhythm. When Wade is healthy, you sort of expect close to those numbers. Just as you expect LeBron to roll out of bed and flirt with a triple-double every game. But Chris Bosh’s play has been the most impressive development. He’s scoring 20.5 points and grabbing 8.5 boards -- a big man consistently playing like a big man. Finally.
Brian Windhorst: Fact. It obviously has been his best four-game run of the season. He looks healthy. He has been moving well. His scoring average is almost back to 20. And, of course, he got engaged.
2. Fact or fiction: Jeff Teague and Al Horford are the best point guard-center starting tandem in the East.
Haberstroh: Fiction. I'm going to go with Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah. Wait, never mind. Hold on, I've got one: Deron Williams and Brook Lopez! Wait. Ugh. Rajon Rondo and Kevin Garnett! OK, three strikes and I'm out. Let's just go with Jeff Teague and Al Horford. "Fact," I guess. This East is depressing.
Wallace: Fact. As hard as that might seem to believe on the surface, Teague and Horford are about as consistently productive as they come. Deron Williams and Brook Lopez are a great tandem, but neither can stay healthy. Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah come to mind quickly, but Rose can’t stay on the court, either. John Wall and Nene are legit as well. But Horford is as versatile a center as there is in the NBA, and Teague has become one of the league’s best playmakers now that he’s consistently playing under control.
Windhorst: Fiction. This is a tricky one because there are quite a few point guards and centers who are hurt plus there's some big men who are technically put in positions when they actually aren't. Right now, for example, Deron Williams and Kevin Garnett are a PG/C tandem. Teague and Horford have been good but on any night Nene and John Wall, Kyrie Irving and Andrew Bynum and Brandon Jennings and Greg Monroe/Andre Drummond can be dominant.
3. Fact or fiction: The Heat’s early season chemistry/cohesion issues are behind them.
Haberstroh: Fiction. Only because there weren't any chemistry issues to begin with. The early season losses were probably just a mixture of good ol' randomness and November defensive apathy.
Wallace: Fiction. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Although Miami has been playing at a high level and has clicked throughout the roster in recent outings, there will be another challenging adjustment to be made once Michael Beasley returns from a hamstring injury that has kept him out most of this month. The Heat's shooters still have work to do to collectively emerge from that recent slump. But LeBron, Wade and Bosh appear to be on top of their respective game right now. And that’s all that ultimately matters.
Windhorst: Fiction. The Heat's issues are never fully behind them. An in-huddle mini-blowup is always just a bad rotation away. This team is used to starting and putting out fires. The only thing they are guaranteed is nothing will be smooth sailing, whether they've won 10 in a row or whether they're behind and in trouble in a playoff series. Both have happened a bunch.