When last we met, the HEAT were setting the tone for their playoff-opening round series with the Charlotte Bobcats. For those of you out there in a vacuum, in a mid-afternoon showdown on a Sunday, Miami came away with a 99-88 win.
Miami got behind a 27-point, nine rebound performance from "The King," LeBron James, and a 23-point, 10-of-16 shooting and five assist show from his well-rested sidekick, Dwyane "Flash" Wade. James Jones scored 12 in just 14 minutes, and Chris "Birdman" Andersen pitched in with eight points and 10 boards in 21 minutes. The Bobcats tried to answer with 20 from Kemba Walker, 18 from Al Jefferson, 17 from Gary Neal off the bench, and 15 from Josh McRoberts. It just wasn't enough in the end.
To be honest, Charlotte played Miami straight up for the first 28 minutes of the game before the HEAT started to show their Championship pedigree. The Bobcats led the HEAT by as many as nine points in the first half before the Three Ring Circus that is the HEAT began to assert their dominance.
Today in HEATstory
Miami is 3-3 all-time on April 23rd, and 1-1 on this date in the playoffs.
1993 - Miami HEAT 121, Washington Bullets 120
2001 - Charlotte Hornets 102, Miami HEAT 76
Including the playoffs, Miami is 30-10 all-time against the Bobcats. Their .750 winning percentage in contests between the two franchises rank as Miami's best, by far. Miami has won 17 in a row overall against Charlotte, and have never lost a game since LeBron and Bosh came on board. In a strange and perhaps fortuitous twist, their second best winning percentage, .691, is against their possible second round matchup, the Toronto Raptors.
Miami center Justin Hamilton played one game for the Bobcats before joining the HEAT. On March 8th, he registered a steal and a turnover in four minutes in a 111-89 loss to the Memphis Grizzlies. Charlotte waived him, and he signed on with the HEAT soon thereafter.
According to www.basketball-reference.com, Miami currently has an 90.2% chance to win the opening series, and an NBA best 21.5% chance to win their third straight NBA title.
LBJ averages 37.7 minutes, 27.7 points, 7.6 rebounds, and 6.7 assists per game in 35 contests against the Bobcats.
In 29 career contests against Charlotte, DWade averages 34 minutes, 21 points, 5.3 rebounds, and six assists per game.
Chris Andersen can boast a 135 offensive rating against the Bobcats in 12 career contests.
What to watch for
We've been waiting all season to see if the Dwyane Wade experiment would work out, and if we base our verdict on one game, then it would appear to be a success. Nonetheless, Miami needs another 15 wins to retain the throne. The real result of having rested Wade throughout the season will become evident if he manages to keep playing at the level he showed on Sunday afternoon.
Tuning in? Tipoff is at 7PM EST on TNT.
Keep it dialed in here at Hot Hot Hoops for all the latest HEAT news. For a Charlotte take on things, head on over to Rufus on Fire.