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Heat smother Hawks in Game 1

Jimmy Butler and Trae Young got into a stare down. Why? Because after the stars became tangled following a foul, Butler grabbed Young by the head/shoulder with one hand and used his other hand along Young’s side to – like a lead dancer – pull Young tight.

Even during a dead ball, the Heat kept the Hawks close.

Miami’s defense was even more suffocating in a 115-91 Game 1 win Sunday afternoon. The Heat’s hot shooting – led by Duncan Robinson (27 points, 8-of-9 on 3-pointers) – ensured they cruised to victory.

NBA teams averaged 24 shots made in the paint per game in the regular season.

Miami held Atlanta to 23 shot attempts in the paint.

The Heat’s defense was even nastier before extended garbage time, when the Hawks got a disproportionate number of their 13 paint makes. Miami led by more than 20 from the early third quarter on.

The Heat just completely walled off the paint. With bigs Bam Adebayo and P.J. Tucker adept at switching and perimeter players Jimmy Butler and Kyle Lowry eager to tussle inside, the Hawks found no quarter.

Miami particularly battered Trae Young, who scored just eight points on 1-of-12 shooting and had more turnovers (six) than assists (four). He’ll look to bounce back in Game 2 Tuesday.

But he’ll have to recover first.

Jimmy Butler (21 points on 9-of-15 shooting) immediately appeared to be in postseason form after his regular-season shooting slipped even further than usual. P.J. Tucker (16 points on 4-of-4 3-point shooting) filled his role to near-perfection.

The Heat probably won’t keep shooting 47% on 3-pointers (18-of-38). But Atlanta won’t necessarily improve a ton from its 28% outside shooting (10-of-36). Though attempting a lot of 3s can be good offense in the modern NBA, the Hawks were really settling for inefficient looks. Good 3-point attempts often stem from getting inside and collapsing the defense.

But Miami’s defense was far too impenetrable for that.