ASK IRA: Which is preferred Heat playoff path: Atlanta or Cleveland?

A: I do not have either, considering I have not made the playoffs. The question is who would the Heat prefer or should prefer? And on that count, I don’t believe it is particularly close. The Cavaliers would just be happy to make it to the playoffs for the first time since LeBron James left in 2018. The Hawks, by contrast, made it to last season’s Eastern Conference finals, and have a load of playoff-tested talent. Yes, Darius Garland has improved, well, to a Most Improved level. But beyond that, Cleveland’s go-to scoring options are limited. With the Hawks it all starts with Trae Young, but is also can be Bogdan Bogdanovic, Danilo Gallinari, Kevin Huerter, and that’s not even getting into a potential return by John Collins. The safest path to the second round for the Heat seemingly would run through Cleveland.

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