LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and the Heat look to inch closer to the No. 2 spot in the East when they take on the Atlanta Hawks on Monday night at Philips Arena (7:00 p.m. SportSouth, 97.9 FM).
Miami (a/k/a the Best Team Ever* to finish behind the Chicago Bulls in the East) seized control for the second seed in the East with a win over the Boston Celtics on Sunday. But their tenuous grip on that spot depends on their performance over their final two games of the season.
Bron Bron's Heat must maintain that one-game lead if they want to get home court advantage over the Celtics in the second round.of the playoffs. Boston holds the tie-breaker by virtue of taking the season series by a margin of three games to one.
While the Celtics' road to the postseason has stops against the Washington Wizards and New York Knicks, the Heat's journey is a little bit tougher. Miami faces the Hawks in Atlanta before finishing the year at the Toronto Raptors on Wednesday.
And they are facing a Hawks team that is expected to get Josh Smith back from his sore right knee injury.
Atlanta has lengthened its rotation and rested a bit after securing the No. 5 seed in the East and a first round matchup against the Orlando Magic. The team also sat down Smith and Jason Collins (sore ankle) in anticipation of getting them ready for the playoffs.
The results weren't pretty. The Hawks dropped two in a row to extend their losing streak to a season-high matching four games.
Although Smith should be back for this one, Jon Newberry of the team's official website reports that Collins will not play. Marvin Williams is also questionable with an ankle injury.
The Hawks are looking to avenge a 106-85 drubbing by the Heat on their home floor the last time these two teams met on March 18. James took his game from St. Patrick's Day night at the Gold Room to the Philips Arena floor and posted a game-high 43 points in the Miami victory.
Miami has taken two of three from Atlanta this season.