If I could describe the way Miami played last night, I would have to use the word “Domination”. And that is exactly what it was flyers. Absolute domination! The Heat did almost everything right on their way to a 123-91 romping of the Hornets in game 1 of their playoff series. Luol Deng played perhaps one of the best games of his career with a 31-point outburst, including 4 three-pointers. Hassan Whiteside did not disappoint in his playoff debut with 21 points and 11 rebounds along with 3 blocks. He also had an impact by changing a good number of Charlotte shots in the paint.
Although they were not needed due to the 41-point first quarter, Wade and Johnson looked very good when they did get the ball. Wade dominated Courtney Lee and Jeremy Lin while Joe Johnson used his size to bully Nicolas Batum and Marvin Williams. Miami got some great bench production led by Amar’e Stoudemire putting up 11 points and some flashback post moves from his days as an all-star.
The first quarter really set the tone as Miami just went crazy from everywhere on the court. They could not be stopped no matter what the Hornets did. I was also impressed with how the Heat came out in the second half. They had the same amount of focus as they did at the start of the game and did not let up. A much better result than what we saw in Boston. Now here are the 3 keys.
- Run them of the line: Charlotte was 6-17 from downtown, which tells me that they rushed a lot of shots due to the Heat fully closing out on shooters. Heat defenders had no fear of the Hornets driving, because every time they did, they ran into the Great Wall of Whiteside in the middle.
- Contain Kemba Walker: Walker had 19 points on 13 shots, which is not great for a player of his caliber. Miami was comfortable with giving him the mid-range jumper, which he made a few of. That is better than letting him get to the basket.
- Dominate inside: Miami won the rebounding battle (49-37) and had more paint points (56-36). Charlotte did win the free throw battle, but that is because the Heat’s interior defense was so physical and they went for a lot of blocks.
An overall fantastic performance from the Heat and a great way to start in this series. They have to get right back to work, though, and be prepared for game 2 because Charlotte will look to come out and knock them on their heels in hopes of stealing home-court advantage.