Who: Charlotte Bobcats vs Miami Heat
What: NBA Basketball – Bobcats Home Game
When: 7 PM ET
Where: Live at Time Warner Cable Arena
|Charlotte||7-20||98.8 (25)||109 (30)||95.4 (8)|
|Miami||19-6||109.7 (2)||101.6 (12)||94.7 (13)|
Charlotte: Tyrus Thomas (OUT), Byron Mullens (OUT), Gerald Henderson (Questionable), Ben Gordon (Questionable)
|PG||Kemba Walker||Mario Chalmers|
|SG||Gerald Henderson||Ray Allen|
|SF||Michael Kidd-Gilchrist||Shane Battier|
|PF||Bismack Biyombo||LeBron James|
|C||Brendan Haywood||Chris Bosh|
|6th Man||Ramon Sessions||Shane Battier|
Tonight the Bobcats will welcome in the defending champions just one day after they played a championship rematch. Will this potentially play in Charlotte’s favor and give them a slight chance to knock off the Heat, or will the slide continue for the Bobcats? Tom Haberstroh, from ESPN.com and TrueHoop blog Heat Index joins Greg and I to break down tonight’s game. We’re going 3-on-3 to try and make sense of it all.
1- STATS: Miami is superior in most offensive categories- they’re first in Effective FG% and TS% and second in offensive efficiency. Charlotte ranks 25th or worst in those three categories. What the Bobcats do well is take care of the basketball, sporting a turnover rate of 12.9 (5th). Tonight, they’ll have to continue to value the ball and find a way to keep the Heat off the offensive glass in order to scrape out enough possessions to give themselves a chance to compete. What’s the most important statistical category for both teams in this one?
Spencer: The Bobcats will certainly have to make sure that they create enough opportunities for themselves to stay in it, because Miami will have their fair share of dunks and transition layups. Interesting stat- Miami is 29th in the league in offensive rebounding rate, so if Charlotte can take advantage of that weakness and limit the Heat second chances, then well, you never know. That’ll be the key, though, to me. Limiting Miami’s offensive rebounds and second chances.
Tom Haberstroh (ESPN.com/Heat Index): It’s the turnover column, easily. After a sleepy start to the season, Miami’s defense has been strangling its opponents lately and it’s all because of turnovers – Charlotte could be their next victim, even though ball control appears to be a strength of the ‘Cats. The Heat have forced at least 15 turnovers in four of the last five games. Turnovers are bad for most teams, but against the LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and high-flying Heat, it’s like stepping under a guillotine.
Greg: If there’s one area where Charlotte matches up well with the Heat, it’s on the boards. The Heat are a surprisingly poor offensive rebounding team, ranking 29th in ORB%. Giving up offensive rebounds is one of the Bobcats’ major weaknesses, ranking dead last in the league. If they can outscore the Heat on second-chance points and stay scrappy, that will go a long way towards keeping the game close.
2- OPINION: After Miami’s scrap with OKC yesterday, and considering it was Christmas day, is it fair to believe the Heat will come out a bit flat tonight and allow the Bobcats to keep this close? Charlotte comes in on three days rest.
Spencer: There could certainly be some validity to the idea that Miami comes out a little flat tonight. The main problem for Charlotte, not being the 15 straight losses, is the fact that they find themselves injury riddled once again. Mullens is out for at least a few weeks with a sprained ankle, while Gerald Henderson and Ben Gordon are both questionable from getting banged up on west coast trip. The Cats always seem to play Miami tough in Charlotte anyways, so I am a believer that this will be a competitive game.
Tom: The Heat have played down to their opponent this season on several occasions. They lost to the Wizards even on two days rest and they nearly lost to the Pee Wee Spurs when Gregg Popovich sent the good half of the roster home. I know this: Wade said the other day that there’s no way that a team playing on Christmas Day should have to endure an immediate back-to-back. He may be right and their play tonight may reflect Wade’s frustration. Not the best Christmas present from David Stern.
Greg: There might be a bit of a hangover, but I wouldn’t count on it too much. The Heat have won all three of their games coming off of a back-to-back, and their improved depth this season should help them keep that up. If they want to stand a chance, the Bobcats will need to avoid going down big early, and force the Heat to give their big three heavy minutes.
3- PICK IT: After the Heat’s big win over OKC yesterday, they keep it going tonight, get their 6th straight win and send Charlotte to their 16th straight loss. Right? Why or why not?
Spencer: Miami. The Bobcats are just too banged up to really have a realistic shot at winning this game. If Charlotte is without Mullens, Henderson and Gordon then I have no idea where the points are coming from tonight. Even being without two of them, which is likely, is going to make scoring enough to stay with the Heat very difficult. Not to mention these injuries are going to put a lot more pressure on Kemba and Sessions to make plays and that’ll likely lead to a lot of turnovers.
Tom: Right. But Charlotte always plays the Heat tough, so I don’t think it will be the laugher that most are expecting. Better chance of ending the losing streak against the Pelicans this weekend then the defending champs. Why? Because at the end of the day, the Heat have LeBron James and the Bobcats don’t.
Greg: The Heat, because they’re just a way better team than the Bobcats. Sometimes, it’s that simple.