Published: January 30, 2012
The immortal Tom Haberstroh from The Heat Index joins us in breaking down tonight’s matchup between the Hornets and the Heat.
Also, don’t forget about our live chat tonight. We’ll be hosting trivia and giving away prizes as well.
The Hornets will look to Emeka Okafor to do damage down low against Miami's less than stellar centers.
1. Which matchup most favors the Heat?
Tom Haberstroh (The Heat Index on ESPN): I usually default here with LeBron James, but the Heat will be circling the Chris Bosh vs. Jason Smith matchup. Smith can move fairly well, but expect Bosh to try to pick him apart off the dribble and mix in some 18-footers. Bosh is a foul-drawing machine so look for him to attack the Hornets’ paper-thin front-line early and often.
Michael McNamara: Dwayne Wade will be covered by some combination of Marco Belinelli, Grevis Vasquez, and Xavier Henry tonight. I know D. Wade has struggled a bit since returning from injury, but that is still a monumental mismatch that the Heat should look to exploit all night.
Joe Gerrity: Dwayne Wade is going to torch the Hornets back court, and there’s little that anyone will be able to do to stop him. As Michael mentioned, Wade has struggled since returning from injury, but there are few better opportunities to go off than against the Hornets back court.
2. Which matchup most favors the Hornets?
Tom Haberstroh: This one’s easy: Emeka Okafor vs. Joel Anthony. Although Okafor won’t be Dream Shaking his way to the rim every time down the floor, he will out-muscle Anthony for boards and have his way with physicality. The Heat could look to use Eddy Curry more than they have in recent games, but the back-to-back might cause Spoelstra to be hesitant on the trigger.
Michael: Last time the Heat came to New Orleans, Emeka Okafor completely dominated Joel Anthony, going for 26 (on 12-13 shooting) and 13 in a 95-93 Hornets victory. For the Hornets to have any chance tonight, Okafor has to be that dominant once again.
Joe: Who am I to disagree with the consensus? Okafor over Anthony and Curry it is!
3. Care to make some predictions about the game?
Tom Haberstroh: There will be ugly. Both teams will be playing the second game of a back-to-back and the Hornets offense is ugly as it is, especially with Eric Gordon looking naturally sad on the sideline. The Hornets rank in the bottom of the league in both shooting (eFG%) and turnover rate so if there was going to be a “lockout” game, this is it.
Michael: The Hornets are absolutely embarrassed after a lackluster effort last night against the Hawks, while the Heat are coming down off an emotional high from beating the Bulls. Because of that, I anticipate this game will be a lot closer than most might expect. Heat pull away late; 91-84.
Joe: I’d expect the Hornets to play a more competitive game than I would have if they’d beaten the Hawks, or at the bare minimum played like an NBA team. I think they rally from the poor performance last night and give the Heat a run for their money. It unfortunately won’t be enough.