The Cirque de Chaleur comes to New Orleans

Published: November 5, 2010

Game Preview
Heat(4-1) @ Hornets(4-0)
Off Efficiency: Heat 109.1(3rd), Hornets 106.3(8th)
Def Efficiency: Heat 87.9(1st), Hornets 97.5(5th)

Yes, the Circus known as the Heat pays a visit tonight in New Orleans.  There’s a tremendous amount of interest in this team, and that fuels a veritable circus of coverage, which in turn ignites more interest, which fuels . . . etc. etc.

Well, there’s a reason for the coverage.  This team is good.  They have had the best defense in the league so far, and the third best offense.  That, however, should be taken with a grain of salt.  There have been only 5 games so far, and while their crushing of Orlando was very impressive, their other three wins came against patsies Minnesota, New Jersey and Philadelphia.

This is a winnable game.

To pull out the win tonight, the Hornets will have three keys to the game:

  1. Limit the fouling.  The Heat are the fifth best team at drawing free throws.  The Hornets can’t keep up with that, no matter what happens in Houston.  They’ll have to be judicious.
  2. Control the three point line.  The Heat have only had one bad game shooting from deep.  In all four other games, they’ve generated good, efficient shots from there.  The Hornets will have to rotate to the perimeter swiftly to limit this.
  3. Watch the turnovers.  The Heat has generated way more turnovers per game than they give up, taking an extra 4 possessions per game from their opponent.  The Hornets will need every possession to win, they can’t give them away.

Thanks to Dariusz Ejkiewicz for the great game-day banner!


The NBA 2k11 simulation results in a  Hornets loss tonight 117-113.  Ariza will drop 26, West gets 25, and Paul scores 5 points with 12 assists.  Somehow, I’m skeptical we’ll see Ariza drop 26 points in a game this season.


Heat: Mike Miller is out.  LeBron has a bruised shin.  It doesn’t matter, because he’ll still play, but it was much reported on, so I figured I’d mention it.
Hornets: Marcus Thornton is probable (strained left achilles).

Positional Analysis

PG: Carlos Arroyo v Chris Paul
Advantage: Hornets
Arroyo has been playing well off the big Miami Trio, knocking down his open shots, and generally just bringing up the ball and getting out of the way.  Paul has been playing like a surgeon, cutting up the defense when necessary to pull out a win, while still putting up amazing, efficient stats.  Paul will need to keep that up to take this game.

SG: Dwyane Wade v Marco Belinelli
Advantage: Heat
If we didn’t need Paul to work so hard offensively, I’d almost rather see Paul taking Wade defensively.  Paul has a history of frustrating Wade and making him work for his shots, and they’ve had some epic battles.  I fully expect to see those two matched up during the closing minutes of the game.  As for Cookies, I hope he gets his shots, but I have a feeling Wade is going to treat him like a bumper in a pinball machine and get multiple and-ones.

SF: LeBron James v Trevor Ariza
Advantage: Heat
Ariza should handle James and his power game better than he handled Kevin Martin and his finesse.  Still, LeBron has a brilliant all-around game, and Ariza just doesn’t produce much offensively.

PF: Chris Bosh v David West
Advantage: Heat
I almost made this a tie.  Bosh has not fit in well with the Heat yet.  His rebounding has been mediocre, his scoring has been very, very inefficient for him, and he’s just not producing what you’d expect.  West’s offense has been better so far this year, but his rebounding has been even worse than Bosh’s, and Bosh’s defense has always been superior to his – so this is a minor advantage for the Heat right now.

C: Joel Anthony v Emeka Okafor
Advantage: Hornets
Anthony plays 20 minutes a game.  He’s just like Emeka Okafor, if Okafor didn’t rebound or score.  Yeah.  He’s that bad.

James Jones, Eddie House, Udonis Haslem, Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Mario Chalmers
Marcus Thornton, Jason Smith, Willie Green, Jerryd Bayless, DJ Mbenga
Advantage: Heat
This is one of the great fallacies about the heat.  Their bench isn’t a weakness.  Jones and House provide pure, dead-eye shooters off the bench at the wing spots.  Haslem is a tough post defender and rebounder, who can score in a pinch.  Ilgauskas and Chalmers provide nice options as a fourth big man and a backup point guard.  This is a solid unit.  The Hornets have a nice guard rotation, but unless Jason Smith is playing better than expected, the frontline gives up a lot.

Enjoy the game!


Notes from the Arena

  • If the Hornets win, they will move to 5-0 for the first time in franchise history.
  • The Hornets have averaged just under 15 fast break points per game so far. Last year they averaged a hair over 15.
  • New Orleans has held it’s last four opponents to under 100 points. This is the first time since 12/30/09 – 1/8/10 that this has happened. Beefence, baby.
  • Chris Paul needs six free throws to set the Hornets all time franchise record.
  • At tip off, David West will pass Larry Johnson for the fourth most starts in franchise history.
  • Monty talked about Peja a little bit during the pre-game chat, saying that he doesn’t know when he will return to the active list. He mentioned potential injuries as a possible cause for his return.
  • He also said that Paul, who suffered a cramp late in the game Wednesday, is fine.
  • LeBron is going to start, and is apparently OK.

I (Joe) will be be over on the ESPN Daily Dime Chat throughout the game, so come on over and chime in.


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