Heat vs. Hawks: Miami is controlling Trae Young, putting on a clinic in how to dispatch of an underdog

The Miami Heat just put on a clinic in how to control and win an NBA playoff game: Limit your own mistakes, and take away what the other team does best. The Heat committed just six turnovers in Game 4 (that number was at two for the portion of the game that was competitive), an accomplishment made more impressive by the fact that Kyle Lowry didn’t play, and basically erased Trae Young in a 110-86 victory over the Atlanta Hawks on Sunday to take a 3-1 lead in their first-round series. 

Miami will look to close it out on Tuesday at home. 

Jimmy Butler, who’s far away been the best player in this series, finished with 33 points on 11-of-20 shooting. He didn’t settle. From the jump he attacked the paint, where Miami dominated Atlanta to the tune of a plus-22 margin. The Heat racked up 15 offensive rebounds despite the return of Clint Capela, and for the fourth straight game Young was unable to get downhill into his floater zone, where he becomes almost indefensible. 

Smothered by a stable of defenders led by P.J. Tucker, Young was forced to jack up 10 of his 11 shots from behind the arc, many of them forced out of frustration. Young is not used to not being able to get downhill with angle advantages, which he effortlessly turns into his own finishes or lob/kick-out assists when he’s not drawing fouls at the mercy of leveraged defenders. 

Per ESPN Stats and Info, Sunday was the first time since Young’s rookie season that he went the full first half with only one two-point shot attempt and zero free-throw attempts. Like I said, he had no choice but to jack up contested shots from beyond the 3-point line, where he’s now shooting 21 percent for the series (7 for 33). 

Atlanta is so outmatched in this series that Young has to be the best player, by an appreciable margin, for it to have any chance, and the Heat know that. So they’re taking him away, the same way the Celtics are taking Kevin Durant, because both have the personnel to do so. 

With Young not dominating, or even playing halfway well, the only way the Heat can lose is if they beat themselves. Again, they only committed six turnovers on Sunday, which led to just 10 Atlanta points, most of which were logged once the game was over. Also, are you ready for this: The Hawks didn’t score a single fast-break point. Which meant they had to attack against a set defense with Trae bottled up. Yeah, that’s not going to go well. 

So Miami did what it was supposed to do. That it was only a minus-1.5 line to the Heat at tip was an insult. Let’s not forget that the Hawks wouldn’t have made the playoffs without the play-in tournament. Miami is the No. 1 seed. The Hawks made one desperate run to pull out Game 3, but Miami has been throughout this series, and is, the far superior team. It was never going to lose without beating itself or getting upended by a Trae Young hurricane. The Heat have guarded against both, and now they’re won win from a first-round victory.