Coming off a Game 1 shellacking, the Charlotte Hornets could really use a Game 2 upset against the talented Miami Heat, who are clicking on all cylinders. Nick Denning, writer for SB Nation’s At the Hive and managing editor of The Lottery Mafia, discusses, from the Hornets’ perspective, what needs to be done to make it a competitive series. But first, Josh Baumgard of Slice Miami handles the Heat side of things.
Josh Baumgard (4:15-4:34): “I think they’re really gonna come at (Hassan) Whiteside. They know he has a tendency to let his temper flare. I think you’re gonna see next game Jefferson’s gonna pound him. They might even bring (Tyler) Hansbrough in for a little longer, just to kind of be that goon, because we all know he can get under players’ skin.”
JB (5:48-6:13): “I think the Heat are a better team. I think they’ve got more firepower in the playoffs. They’ve got multiple guys who create. And as long as these guys play together, which they have. As long as Dwyane Wade doesn’t try to be the man, which he’s an unselfish guy (who) buys into the team aspect. As long as he tries to not do too much hero ball and they’re moving the ball, that’s the key with them. When they’re moving the ball and they’re playing hard defense, they can pretty much hang with anybody, at least in the Eastern Conference.”
JB (8:38-9:18): “Kemba (Walker)’s one of those guys that’s very inconsistent, and I think the Heat really enjoy playing those guys. They’d much rather play a ball-dominant guy like Kemba that’s flashy and a high-volume shooter than one of these lights-out 3-point shooters. So I think the Heat are gonna do everything they can to contain him. And I think you’re gonna see a lot of Winslow on him, especially in the second half…Winslow’s got such amazing defensive agility, and I think he could really give Kemba some issues. Kemba’s got to be lights out for them to have a chance to beat them, especially tomorrow (Game 2).”
JB (10:10-10:24): “I think Jefferson’s got a 30-point game in him, and if I were the Hornets, I would dump it into him on Whiteside just all day. He might block some shots for sure, but if you can get Whiteside in some foul trouble, the Heat are a different team defensively when he’s out of the game.”
JB (12:22-12:54): “This group, outside of (Chris) Bosh, they really thrive playing small ball, especially Luol Deng. It’s like Luol Deng was reborn when he was moved to the 4. He’s just a completely different player. When he was playing the 3 and he was really on the outside, he looked washed-up. He looked done. I said to trade him to China, bring back Michael Beasley. But ever since he’s gone to the 4, it’s just reinvigorated everything, like Goran Dragic has been more aggressive, has gotten more shots. They’ve just stepped up in his (Bosh’s) absence.”
JB (14:27-14:34): “I hope he (Bosh) is (able to return to the NBA). But there’s a part of me that hopes he retires, because he’s got his money’s worth. He’s got nothing left to prove.”
Nick Denning (17:24-17:54): “I haven’t quite hit the panic button yet; I know some have. But I’d say the biggest thing that needs to change is really they have to get back to their identity, specifically on the defensive rebounding side of things. Miami got a ton of offensive rebounds in Game 1, and Charlotte ranked as the best defensive rebounding team in the league, so that was very unlike them…That’s got to improve, and I think part of that is containing Whiteside, which they had real trouble doing in Game 1.”
ND (21:43-22:22): “It won’t be good if the role players don’t step up and start hitting shots, because people talk about Kemba’s improved shooting percentages this year. Part of that is he adjusted his release, but part of that is the fact that there are just other reliable scorers on the floor now. In years past, almost every time late in the shot clock the ball had to go to Walker whether he was in a good position to shoot or not, and that’s why he had to put a lot of just bad shots, and this year he doesn’t have to do that. So you could see things going south pretty quickly if he has to be relied on to do almost everything.”
ND (22:52-23:21): “I think Jefferson is their X factor just because even though he hasn’t been at quite the level he’s been maybe say from two years ago, in recent weeks, he’s looked a lot better, looked healthier. His post moves have been much stronger. So I was really disappointed by how poorly he played for the most part in Game 1. Whether he starts or not I don’t think necessarily matters…He can potentially disrupt Whiteside. And if he can get him into foul trouble, that could bode well. But yeah, he needs to do more.”
ND (23:32-23:49): “They (the Heat) didn’t really have an answer for (Nic) Batum. I was actually a little bit worried just by how he would perform, because he just rolled his ankle about a week and a half ago. He played really well. You could just tell that he had been in these situations before. He was ready for a playoff game.”
ND (27:10-27:23): “Probably for Game 2, just based on how Game 1 went, I think they (the Hornets) have to get out to a good start. Because if they get behind again, like they have at times this season, it’s gonna be much harder for them to come back just because of the situation.”
Baumgard: Heat in 5.
Denning: If Charlotte wins Game 2, “it can go any direction.”
Music: “Who Likes to Party?” by Kevin MacLeod