Game #36: Miami Heat (26-9) vs. Charlotte Bobcats (11-20)

The Miami Heat is showing us all that in many ways they are no different then any other team with a roster full of new players.  They are adapting to each other on the court while trying to learn a multitude of new plays on offense.  Luckily, they have a bunch of very talented players that allow the growing pains to be overshadowed by lots of points, wins and some of the best team defense I've seen in a long long time.  

Former Miami guard John Crotty, who now works on the Heat radio broadcast team, was saying something very interesting during a commercial break on Saturday night.  He played for the Heat in 1996-97 on a team that was known as a great defensive squad.  He said that while that team could absolutely frustrate and shut down opponents on defense, they had problems generating offense, which hindered the team at times. 

However, watching this year's version of the Heat is something that he says is just amazing to see.  Usually with basketball teams its one way or the other; you put fourth all your effort to either shut a team down defensively or outscore them, but the Heat can do both very well and at the same time.  When they turn up the defense it directly affects their offense and creates momentum swings that are near impossible to recover from.

It's a very unique way of doing things that Miami can make look like their normal way of playing.  When you consider that their offense is still just beginning to implement what the coaching staff has written up for them, its amazing to think how bright the future is for this team and I'm sure scary as hell for other teams to even think about. 

The next team on the schedule for the Heat to scare is the Charlotte Bobcats, who are trying to win their way through the never easy mid-season coaching change.  Paul Silas took over calling the shots last week when the team mutually parted ways with former coach Larry Brown, who had been coaching the Bobcats since the beginning of the 2008-09 season. 

Charlotte has gone 2-1 under Silas and has been playing some good basketball but could be without their best player against the Heat tonight.  Guard Gerald Wallace hurt his left ankle late in practice on Sunday while attempting a dunk and had to be carried to the training room by teammates Nazr Mohammed and Stephen Jackson.   

It's unknown whether or not Wallace will play tonight in Miami, and if that wasn't bad enough, Charlotte will also be without center DeSagana Diop.  Diop suffered a strain to his Achilles tendon Friday against the Warriors and probably won't be back any time soon, but missing Wallace will have a much bigger impact then missing Diop. 

The Bobcats do get some good news though, as they anticipate getting Tyrus Thomas back in the lineup after he missed Charlotte's last two games dealing with a sprained right wrist.  Thomas has been a solid bench player this year, averaging 11.4 points and 5.4 rebounds in just over 20 minutes per game. 

GAME NOTES

  • One guy who has had some success against the Bobcats is Chris Bosh, who is averaging 27.2 points and 11.5 rebounds in his last 10 games against Charlotte. 
  • New Bobcats coach Paul Silas has previously coached a few Heat players.  LeBron James and Zydrunas Ilgauskas played under Silas in Cleveland while Jamaal Magloire played for him as a member of the Hornets
  • The Heat has lost their last two trips to Charlotte. 
  • Miami has won 10 straight games on the road, averaging 105.1 points on 50.7% shooting while giving up just 90.0 points. 
  • The Bobcats are 5-17 when failing to score 100 points.
  • Charlotte has also has lost 5 of their last 7 games overall.    
  • Udonis Haslsm (foot) will be out for the Heat. 
  • For the Bobcats, Gerald Wallace (ankle) and Tyrus Thomas (wrist) are questionable while DeSagana Diop is out (Achilles).

Tipoff from the Time Warner Cable Arena is set for 7:00.  We'll see if the Heat can continue the amazing defense we saw in the 2nd half on Saturday night against a Bobcats team that isn't exactly known for their scoring.  We'll also see if Mike Miller can get into the game a bit more. 

He's played in 4 games since returning from his thumb injury for a total of 32 minutes.  I'm not at all worried about his lack of scoring because he's been unable to get out there and get comfortable yet.  Hopefully Erik Spoelstra gets a situation where he can leave Miller out for a bit and see if he can get into a rhythm, which will mean that the sharpshooter is that much closer to moving into the regular rotation. 

UPDATE: Gerald Wallace will NOT play tonight against the Heat and according to Coach Paul Silas will be out "a few games".  Gerald Henderson will start in Wallace's place, moving Stephen Jackson to small forward.

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