Key Matchup vs. Miami Heat: Michael Carter-Williams vs. Goran Dragić
Another chance for the Charlotte Hornets to start righting their road troubles awaits at American Airlines Arena on Friday night as they’ll take on the Miami Heat for the first time this season.
Leading-scorer Kemba Walker (left shoulder contusion) will be sidelined again for Charlotte, which means another start for first-year Hornet Michael Carter-Williams. Although not the offensive juggernaut Walker is, Carter-Williams has showcased versatility with averages of 7.0 points, 3.8 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 1.0 steal in 20.3 minutes over his last five outings.
Coming off a monstrous performance at EuroBasket 2017 for first-time champion Slovenia, Goran Dragić will match up with Carter-Williams as Miami’s starting point guard. The Heat have been mindful of overworking the reigning Eastern Conference Player of the Week following his busy summer, although Dragić is still leading the team in scoring (18.0 points on 45.8 percent shooting) and assists (4.5) to along with 4.0 rebounds per game this season.
Carter-Williams and the Hornets absolutely cannot afford to let another opposing point guard have the same kind of freedom like they allotted Toronto’s Kyle Lowry on Wednesday night (36 points on 8-of-11 shooting from three-point range). With Dragić currently ranked eighth in the NBA in drives per game (14.3), Charlotte will need to use defensive pressure in the lane and be attentive to any three-point kick-outs.