NBA Playoffs Preview: Miami Heat vs. Charlotte Hornets

16
Apr

The Miami Heat and Charlotte Hornets are very similar per some base level numbers. The Hornets have a 3.3 net rating and a 54.5% true shooting percentage. The Heat? A 2.6 net rating and an exact true shooting percentage match. They couldn’t do it much differently on offense though.

There’s a real dichotomy in offensive philosophy. The Hornets are playing close to a five-out system these days and have averaged the fourth-most three-point attempts per game while the Heat are averaging the third-least. This makes a lot of sense as Charlotte is shooting 36.2% and Miami, just 33.6%.

The defenses are very similar as well, though the Heat tend to be flashier with Hassan Whiteside. The differences in their points allowed might be tied to their differences in pace. Miami plays a somewhat slower game than Charlotte plays, 95.75 to 97.8.

Keys to the Series

Heat

  • Close out on three-point attempts. The Hornets take a lot threes, that’s been established. As can be guessed, Charlotte shoots worse as the defender gets closer. If Miami can force more closely defended shots than Charlotte is currently getting in, 27.8% of 3’s are open vs. just 7.1%. When defended closely though, the Hornets shoot below 30% on threes.
  • Split Wade and Dragic minutes. With Bosh out for the playoffs, the Heat will need to get creative to keep their defense flowing. Dragic and Wade’s minutes being split might help that. The top-two Dragic lineups sans Wade and Bosh have net ratings of 5.7 and 10.0. Wade sans Dragic and Bosh? Ratings of 12.3 and 15.1.

Hornets

  • Close down the lane. The Heat are seventh in drives per game and convert a third-best 48.9% of those drives. Limiting this force Miami, with a slow pace, out of their game.
  • Share the playmaking load. Kemba Walker and Nic Batum can both initiate the offense and they should keep the Miami defense on their toes by leaving lead ball handler duties to be split up.

X-Factor

Kemba Walker

After years of shooting around 30% from three, Walker delivered on his promise to shoot better from three, converting 37% this season. That extra space goes hand-in-hand with a better offense for the team. That and the five-out system being played.

Prediction

The Hornets might be the lower seeded team, but with Bosh out still, the Heat have a clearer picture but might find tough sledding when teams can be more creative in allowing their shoe-horned small-ball fours to attempt to beat them.

Hornets in 6

About the author: Colby Rogers

Colby is the Editor-in-Chief, Founder and Lead Contributor to Other League. Also a law student focusing on Labor & Employment law and intersections with law and sports. You can find him on Twitter via @Colby_OL.