Charlotte Hornets at Miami HEAT Game Preview

Photo Credit: Issac Baldizon

The Miami HEAT host the Charlotte Hornets Friday night at AmericanAirlines Arena. Get your tickets now! The HEAT defeated the Hornets 112-99 in their last meeting on April 5. Tip-off is set for 8:00 PM. Television coverage on FOX Sports Sun begins at 7:30 PM. You can also listen to the action live on 790 The Ticket.

1: Is there anything worth discussing from Miami’s loss in New York?

Couper Moorhead: Not particularly, no, though it is worth noting that Kristaps Porziņģis has been declared day-to-day after what looked like a pretty awful turned ankle in the opening minutes of this game. We never want to see any player get injured and it’s good to know that one of the game’s brightest young stars should be said.

As for the game itself, it seemed to leave both Erik Spoelstra and Goran Dragić looking for answers in their post-game interviews and with respect to that, we shouldn’t pretend to have any that they do not. Seasons will always have their up and down stretches, so what is most important at this point is that Miami can find a way to respond like they did against Boston coming off the loss to Indiana two weekends ago.

Joe Beguiristain: There isn’t much to discuss outside of Bam Adebayo and Kelly Olynyk. Adebayo took advantage of his fourth-career start and continued to show his efficiency around the rim. While most of his field goals came off good setups by his teammates, there was one play in particular where he posted-up Enes Kanter and drove across the lane for a strong finish. Being able to do that more often will be key in Adebayo’s development as the season wears on.

Olynyk, meanwhile, remained sharp from distance and led the team with 18 points. As usual, the 7-footer took advantage of catch-and-shoot opportunities and spaced the floor.

All that said, Miami had a very tough outing in New York. We’ll see how the team responds against a struggling Charlotte Hornets squad Friday night.

2: How have Charlotte’s offseason moves affected their play this season?

Couper: The results have been somewhat mixed, though that comes with some health-related caveats. Dwight Howard is playing quite well after being traded from Atlanta and when he is on the floor the Hornets are playing Top-10 level defense. But Charlotte is also 8-12 and has been relatively average on both sides of the ball in part because of missed time by both Nic Batum and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, with Kemba Walker also missing the team’s last game. When any of Charlotte’s starters are on the floor, including Batum stand-in Jeremy Lamb, the Hornets outscore their opponents. But all that positivity reverses when the bench units are on the floor, a potential advantage Miami’s typically-strong bench can use.

Mailk Monk, at all of 19-years old, is only shooting 35.3 percent from the floor in his first 18 games but he is at 34.6 percent from three and has had some particularly explosive stretches. There’s a ton of scoring potential here and, in time, the efficiency should improve.

Joe: Dwight Howard has easily been Charlotte’s most valuable pickup thus far. While guys like Malik Monk and Dwayne Bacon have a higher ceiling at this stage and offer excitement for the future, Howard is the guy who’s stood out the most in the early going.

The 31-year-old vet has been an absolute beast over the last five games, posting averages of 20.6 points, 13.4 rebounds and 1.2 blocks per game on 61 percent shooting during that span. What’s more, the big man is shooting 49.3 percent on 154 post-ups this season. With Hassan Whiteside out due to a bone bruise in his left knee, Adebayo will have a tall task on his hands.

Despite Howard’s sharp play of late, the Hornets have dropped three straight and are 8-12 on the year. Injuries to key players and poor defensive play overall have a lot to do with that.   

3: How does this matchup change if Kemba Walker (bruised shoulder) cannot play?

Couper: If Walker, listed as questionable, can’t go then Charlotte is likely to start Michael Carter-Williams at point guard – a move that changes the dynamic of the offense given that Carter-Williams is not a great shooter. More playmaking duties likely fall on Nicolas Batum and bench players like Jeremy Lamb and Frank Kaminsky who can create some offense for themselves. Without the deadly threat of Walker’s off-dribble shooting, however, Miami might not have to chase the ball over screens as aggressively as they often do and therefore prevent dribble penetration by sitting back closer to the paint.

That’s not to say the Hornets cannot create offense without Walker. Both Batum and Lamb are long, tall, athletic players capable of shooting over the top and Dwight Howard is having an offensive-rebounding season almost as good as New York’s Enes Kanter, so there’s plenty of work to be done defensively.

And on the other side of the ball, Carter-Williams has the length to bother all of Miami’s ballhandlers.

Joe: This matchup changes a lot if Kemba Walker is unable to play. Walker is absolutely deadly with the ball in his hands, as he’s among league leaders in drives per game and field goal percentage off those looks. As usual, he’s also been fantastic in the pick-and-roll game.

If Walker is out once again, Michael Carter-Williams will likely start for the second consecutive game. Although Carter-Williams can create for his teammates, he is prone to turning over the ball with more touches. Perhaps that is something the HEAT can take advantage of.

It’s also important to note that Jeremy Lamb, a guy that would help take over playmaking duties with Walker out, is also listed as questionable for Friday night.

While a lot of things are up in the air for Charlotte, Head Coach Steve Clifford will have his team ready to go as always.

INJURY UPDATES: Walker is officially out for Friday night's game, but Lamb is available to play.

 

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Highlights:

April 5 – HEAT at Hornets

March 8 – Hornets at HEAT

Game Notes:

  • The HEAT have won the last two matchups with the Hornets.
  • Charlotte has dropped three straight and is 8-12 on the year.
  • Goran Dragić leads Miami in points (18.0) and assists (4.5) per game.
  • Dwight Howard leads the Hornets in rebounds (12.7) and blocks (1.2) per contest.

 

Efficiencies (Rank):

  • HEAT Offense: 100.6 (26)
  • HEAT Defense:  103.9 (13)
  • Hornets Offense: 104.6 (18)
  • Hornets Defense: 105.1 (15)

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