Game 1 Preview: Heat vs. Hornets

Your Miami Heat begin their playoff quest tonight when they begin their first round matchup with the Charlotte Hornets! In what is considered one of the best first round series in the playoffs, the Miami Heat will seek to win their first playoff series without LeBron James since the Heat won the title in 2006. The team this year has many playoff-tested veterans and home-court advantage, which gives the Heat a slight edge over Charlotte. On the other end, the Hornets have a boat load of young talent that can stretch the floor and knock down long-range shots. Coach Steve Clifford has a budding star in Kemba Walker and a veteran presence in Al Jefferson, which should give Miami some issues.

Here are 3 keys to the Heat winning.

  1. Run them off the three-point line: The Hornets thrive on guys like Walker getting into the line and then kicking it out to shooters. The Heat will have to make sure they know where players like Marvin Williams, Nicolas Batum, and Courtney Lee are at all times and then make them drive and finish in the paint.
  2. Contain Kemba Walker: If you want to stop the Hornets, then you have to at least slow down Kemba Walker. He is a stud when it comes to driving the lane and does a great job of staying low to the ground when dribbling. If the Heat can keep him outside, the Hornets will have problems.
  3. Dominate inside: The Hornets are built to attack from outside, while the Heat are built to pound the ball into the paint. All of their players have to be in attack mode and forget about shooting from outside. The Heat need to have more paint points, free throws, and rebound because that is where they have an advantage over Charlotte.

Miami, at some point needs to call an isolation for either Joe Johnson or Dwyane Wade and get them the ball on the elbow, baseline, or in the post. The playoffs are a slower game and these two are at the age now where their games are geared towards playing slower. The Hornets don’t have anyone strong enough to hang with either of them, so again, the Heat need to take advantage.

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