Game Preview: Miami Heat @ Charlotte Hornets


The Charlotte Hornets (1-3) return home after a lackluster performance in the Big Easy last night, to battle a familiar Southeast Division foe, the Miami Heat (3-1).  Both teams lost yesterday against Western Conference opponents, the Heat picking up their first loss of season against the Houston Rockets and the Hornets extending their losing streak to 3 games, losing to the New Orleans Pelicans.

According to, this divisional rivalry has included the longest active winning streak in the NBA, with the Miami Heat winning 16 straight games against the Charlotte Hornets (previously known as the Bobcats) including the 4 game sweep last year in the playoffs.  The Heat haven’t just beat the Hornets 16 straight times, they’ve done so by an average double-digit margin of 13.4 points.

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Despite the one-sided recent history of the franchises the Hornets came into the season on an upward trend, while the Heat were predicted by many to fall out of the Top 5 in the East since the loss of Lebron James.  The exact opposite has been the case early in the season.

While the Big Three in Miami no longer exist, Chris Bosh and Dwayne Wade have stepped up and carried the Heat to a (3-1) record after beating the Wizards, 76ers, and Raptors.  Bosh is averaging career highs with 24.5PPG, 10.5 RPG, and 3.3 APG, while Wade has played in all 4 games so far and become more of the facilitator on the perimeter averaging 17 points, 4 rebounds and 6 assists.  Newcomer Luol Deng has fit in nicely with the offense, and the Heat are enjoying a great start to the season.

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The Hornets on the other hand have been struggling on both ends of the court.  Al Jefferson has easily been the only player showing up for every game.  Lance has been limited with a groin injury but has shown flashes of why the Hornets brought him in with a new contract.  Kemba has had a rough time getting his shooting down, but has clearly improved his 3 pt game and is only averaging about a turnover a game.  Still, the Hornets have struggled to find any rhythm and relied on 3 straight 4th quarter offensive spurts before getting manhandled by New Orleans last night.

Josh McRoberts bolted from the Charlotte franchise presumably in order to try and entice Lebron to staying in Miami, which ultimately failed.  After a breakthrough season with the then Bobcats, McRoberts is on limited minutes while nursing a foot injury that required surgery in the offseason.  Against the Rockets yesterday he played 6 minutes while picking up 4 fouls and didn’t contribute much of anything in the loss.

The only real injuries to report are a rib contusion to Kidd-Gilchrist which kept him out against the Grizzlies and a wrist injury to Luol Deng for the Heat.  Deng played against the Rockets, but both are questionable for tonight’s games.  Lance has been on limited minutes for the Hornets, but for the most part has played through his groin injury.

Projected Starters: Hornets

PG:  Kemba Walker

SG:  Lance Stephenson

SF:  MKG (questionable), Gerald Henderson

PF:  Marvin Williams

C:  Al Jefferson

Projected Starters:  Heat

PG:  Norris Cole

SG:  Dwayne Wade

SF:  Luol Deng

PF:  Shawne Williams

C:  Chris Bosh

It’ll definitely be an interesting battle inside with Chris Bosh and Al Jefferson, two of the best centers in the league.  Vegas line has Charlotte by 2, but we’ll see if the Hornets can finally get off to a quick start and not try and depend on 4th quarter comebacks to try and scrape out a win.  A win against the Heat will not only end the longest active win streak of one team against another in the league, but will really put some momentum in our favor in the early start of the season.