Game On: Hornets @ Heat

Published: January 30, 2012

The Hornets take their talents to South Beach and hope to pull off the upset.

Plus, join us for a live in-game chat and trivia contest.

The Heat haven’t been unstoppable this season as they’ve had to manage around injuries to both LeBron James and Dwyane Wade.  Over their last 10, six of which have been without Wade, they’ve only won six games.  Unfortunately, the Hornets are drawing the Heat with Wade back in the lineup and fresh off a strong performance against the defenseless Knicks.

Even without Wade, the Heat offense has been hard to contain this year, with the team posting the third most efficient offense in the league.  It’ll be interesting to see who Ariza draws as his defensive assignment.  It may be wise to play a lot of the game with Ariza chasing Wade, while Landry and Aminu get turns checking James to put a little more strength on the Heat small Forward.   For the first time, LeBron has decided his overwhelming strength and speed would work well in the post, and he’s been drawing fouls like crazy overpowering the small forwards sent to guard him.  Ariza is skilled, but he’s better using his length disrupting pick and rolls and chasing players across screens.  As a post defender, he’s much less able.  Thus, give him Wade, who has struggled this year and could be taken out of the game.

Still, even if you account for the two big wing players, the Heat have a lot of offensive weapons to throw at you.  Mario Chalmers and Mike Miller have both shot well, knocking down all those open shots on the perimeter generated by Wade and James  – both of whom average more than 5 assists.  The much-maligned Bosh has also gotten back to his efficient self, generating 21 points a game and scoring 1.37 points per shot.  The only Hornet better than that is Gustavo Ayon and his 2.6 shots a game.

Scarily, the Heat’s strengths are posed to prey on the Hornets two greatest weaknesses.   The heat draw the most free throws per shot in the league – and crush people in fast breaks off turnovers.  The Hornets are foul- and turnover-prone.  Happily, the Heat do have one weakness:  They aren’t a great team on the boards, and the Hornets are terrific there.

So the three Hornets keys to victory:

  1. Limit turnovers and fast break points by the ultra-athletic Heat.
  2. Crush them on the boards.  Get offensive rebounds and extra shots to make up for your own lack of offensive efficiency.
  3. Arms up, move your feat, and try not to foul.

Enjoy the game.



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