The Charlotte Hornets had a strong second half of the season and were playing well headed into the playoffs. Many prognosticators actually picked them to win the series while most would agree that this series was going to be a close one either way. The Heat have been adjusting their style of play since the All Star break due to being without the services of Chris Bosh who is unable to play due to blood clot issues. Their adjustments continued to prove productive as they dominated the Hornets right from the outset of game one. They held a 41-22 lead at the end of the first quarter and never looked back in a 123-91 beating in Miami.
For the Hornets the loss is sure to be disappointing, however they will need to both learn from their mistakes and makes the necessary adjustments from Game 1 but they will also need to just forget about it and get back to playing their style of basketball. One of the few Game 1 bright spot was swingman Nicholas Batum who scored 24 points over 40 minutes and his jump shots early in the first half were the only positives for his team in an otherwise dismal performance. Kemba Walker had 19 points on only 13 shots but was also held to only one assist. The Hornets will need much more out of their point guard if they want any realistic chance in the series. Another option they may have to loo at more is reserve center Al Jefferson who has been battling injuries all season but looks to be rounding into shape at the right time. He had 13 point and 5 rebounds over 23 minutes but only took 8 shots. As a proven veteran scorer it may be in the teams best interest to find him some more touches especially when Hassan Whiteside is not in the game. Marvin Williams had a strong season and they will need more than 2 points and 1-7 from the field from him if they expect to have any real chance in game 2.
The Heat have made the transition from a half court team to a team looking to run since losing Bosh. Free agent signing Joe Johnson stepped into Luol Deng’s place at small forward and Deng moved over to power forward and the results have been tremendous. Deng has flourished; Johnson has provided veteran leadership and scoring punch. Point Guard Goran Dragic is much more comfortable in the teams faster pace and Dwayne Wade is the healthiest he has been in years. In the middle Hassan Whiteside received the start in game one putting the Heats 5 best players on the court to start the game. Whiteside had been coming off the bench in the regular season. Deng and Whiteside combined for 52 points and 18 rebounds in game one. Wade had 16 with 7 assists; Johnson had 11 points and 6 rebounds. With 9 points Dragic was the only scorer not in double figures but he did have 10 assists.
Game 2 will be matters of what adjustments can the Hornets make to get off to a better start and get their better offensive players the ball in a position to score. The Heat need to find the same groove they had on Sunday
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