HORNETS VS. HEAT
By: Jim Eichenhofer, Hornets.com, @Jim_Eichenhofer
November 5, 2010
The Miami Heat made NBA offseason history in July, by convincing Eastern Conference All-Stars and free agents LeBron James and Chris Bosh to join longtime Miami franchise player Dwyane Wade on South Beach. In the 60-plus-year history of the league, there have been few trios with more star power than Miamis collection. In fact, based on NBA analyst John Hollingers statistical calculations, James, Wade and Bosh all ranked among the four best players in the league in 2009-10.
Now the Heats Miami Thrice stars are trying to create history on the court. The Heat, who are making their lone appearance of the 2010-11 regular season in New Orleans, are considered the Eastern Conference favorites by many media members. Miami was also picked by some to oust the two-time defending NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers as the leagues premier team.
Miami was not only able to sign big-name stars James, Bosh and Wade this summer, but also surrounded them with an impressive collection of blue-collar role players and feared perimeter shooters. With those three players expected to draw considerable attention from opposing defenses, its likely that there will be a significant amount of open shots available for teammates.
New Orleans has enjoyed a great deal of success against Miami in recent years, never losing at home to the Heat over the five years of Chris Pauls career. Of course, most of those Miami teams were substantially less talented than the franchises current edition. These clubs will complete their annual two-game series just over a month from now, on Dec. 13 in Miami.
Power forward, David West vs. Chris Bosh
A total of five players with multiple recent All-Star appearances dot the rosters of these two teams (Paul, West, James, Bosh, Wade) but power forward is the only position in which there is a head-to-head showdown. Bosh presents a unique challenge for the New Orleans defense, with a blend of athleticism, length, shooting skill and post-up ability. In two victories over the Hornets last season, the former Toronto Raptors standout piled up 52 points on 76 percent shooting. Bosh has been selected to the Eastern Conference All-Star team each of the past five years, while West was an All-Star in 2008 and 2009.
HORNETS.COM SCOUTING REPORT - Miami
A closer look at the 4-1 Miami Heat:
In 2006, All-Star shooting guard Dwyane Wade led Miami to the franchises lone NBA championship in its 22-year history (like the Hornets, the Heat were an expansion team that joined the league in 1988-89). Wade earned the 06 NBA Finals MVP trophy with a scintillating performance that enabled the Heat to erase a 2-0 deficit in games against the Dallas Mavericks. The athletic, 6-foot-5 Wade has been Miamis best player in the ensuing seasons, but a drop in the talent surrounding Wade has prevented the Heat from advancing past the first round of the playoffs. In the preseason last month, Wade sustained a hamstring injury that caused him to miss a few weeks of action. He returned to the floor in the Oct. 26 regular season opener at Boston and has already had several Wade-like performances.
Veteran point guard Carlos Arroyo beat out past first-stringer Mario Chalmers for the Heats starting job. A backup for the majority of his NBA career, Arroyo has perhaps received the most acclaim from basketball fans for some of his performances with Puerto Ricos national team. During the 2004 Summer Olympics, Arroyo scored 24 points in a shocking upset over the USA Basketball squad.
Eddie House is one of the NBAs premier spot-up shooters, able to get hot quickly from the perimeter. One of the finest games of his career came in December 2005 against the Hornets. House racked up 16 fourth-quarter points to help Phoenix defeat New Orleans, in a game moved to Baton Rouge following Hurricane Katrina.
Mike Miller was expected to be the Heats primary scoring option after the Big Three, but he may miss a significant chunk of the season due to an injury sustained during preseason.
The NBAs two-time reigning MVP, LeBron James is one of the most gifted players to ever suit up in the league. With a versatile game that includes nearly every conceivable skill along with a muscular 6-foot-8 frame that makes some wonder if he couldve been an All-Pro tight end in the NFL James is extremely difficult to contain. James spent the first seven seasons of his career in Cleveland and led the Cavaliers to their only NBA Finals appearance in 2007. The Cavs also won 60-plus games each of the past two regular seasons, but James opted to join the Heat in free agency.
The combination of James and Chris Bosh is the most talented forward duo in the league. Bosh, the best player in Toronto Raptors franchise history, has enjoyed far less team success than James the Raptors never made it out of the first round of the playoffs during his tenure. In the first week of the season, Boshs scoring and shot attempts were way down in his new role as option No. 3.
Udonis Haslem is a blue-collar rebounder and defender whos been with the Heat for his entire NBA career. The Miami native is also a reliable mid-range jump shooter. He banked in a game-winning shot last season to beat New Orleans, 102-101, in November.
James Jones top skill is his perimeter shooting. Hes connected on over 40 percent of his three-point attempts in two of the previous three full seasons.
Left-handed big man Joel Anthony will be counted on by Miami to provide consistent rebounding and interior defense. One of a handful of Canadian players in the NBA, Anthony went undrafted after an excellent college career at UNLV.
The 7-foot-4 Zydrunas Ilgauskas spent his entire NBA career prior to this season with the Cleveland Cavaliers, but decided to join his close friend LeBron James in signing as a free agent with Miami. Ilgauskas was a solid starting center throughout his time with the Cavs, but has begun to play fewer minutes at age 35. He is extremely skilled, especially for a player of his size, and also thrives on tip-ins and putbacks around the rim.
Veteran big man Jamaal Magloire spent the beginning of his NBA career with the Hornets. Magloire was named an All-Star for New Orleans in 2003-04, the teams second season in the Big Easy.
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