Opponent: Miami Heat (1-1)
Last season: Charlotte wins season series 3-1. Game 1: Bobcats win 90-88 (No Dwyane Wade). Game 2: Bobcats win 91-76 (No Wade). Game 3: Heat 110-90. Game 4: Bobcats 94-82 (No Wade again).
Not going to bother bringing up last year's numbers because…Dwyane Wade is back.
In case you missed Wade's performance in the Olympics, he has been working to remind everyone in the Heat's first 2 games that he is among the best 5 players in the NBA when healthy. And he seems pretty healthy right now. 23 points, 8.5 assists, and 5.5 rebounds per game to start the year. The Heat in turn look a bit better than the 15 win squad of last season.
At 1-1 entering the game against the Bobcats, the Heat lost a shootout in the opener to New York and then pounded Sacramento. Over the 2 games, they are scoring at a rate of 111.2 points per 100 possessions. That is very, very good. Grain of salt: The Knicks and the Kings are far from very, very good, or even good. But we know from their first two performances the Heat can score against bad teams, and until the Bobcats prove otherwise, that is what they are.
Miami has rebounded well on both ends of the court – 30.3% offensively and 72.2% defensively, protected the basketball (turnovers on only 12.2% of possessions), and forced turnovers from the opponents at a good rate, 17.5%. Part of the good news for the Bobcats is that the Heat are not a big team either, with Udonis Haslem spending a good bit of time at the 5, the rook Beasley and Shawn Marion interchanging at the 3 and 4, Wade at the 2, and Chalmers/Livingston/Banks splitting time at 1.
Speaking of Marion and Beasley – I am not looking forward to watching Sean May attempt to guard either of them. This will probably be a game where the Bobcats play small a fair amount, as Gerald and Jared can matchup with the Heat's 4 most of the time. As long as that means Carroll or Adam is out there, I am good with that. The two point guard lineup would not be a good idea, as watching Felton or Augustin try to cover Wade would be painful to watch. Please do not do that to us, Larry.
Final thoughts: The Bobcats catch the Heat coming off their laugher against the Kings last night. Evening game, followed by a late flight – a chance for the Bobcats to jump on top early? We need to hope so and the team needs to take advantage of scheduling benefits where possible. The Heat are a beatable opponent, because while led by a superstar in Wade, beyond Beasley and Marion, they are not a talent filled squad. Unfortunately, the Heat may be having similar thoughts as well.
Too depressing of a preview? Sorry, I am still a little bummed from the opener. I will try to lift the tone for the next one (or, hopefully, in the recap). Go Bobcats.