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Heat at Bobcats: First Streak of the Season?

Miami's favorable early schedule continues with a visit to the Bobcats, once a rising and moderately scary young team now completely declawed by the absent leadership of Michael Jordan and the supremely lazy hire of the ghost of Larry Brown as coach. Charlotte has good players, but is less than the sum of its parts. Regardless, a hot night from Jason Richardson or a cold one from Dwyane Wade could change everything, and we don't yet know which Heat team was the fluke: Wednesday's listless group, or Friday's inspired one.

Matchup of the night: Shawn Marion vs. Gerald Wallace.

Two of the game's most versatile forwards compare toolboxes. Neither is a focus of his team's offense, but each has a profound effect on games in his own unique way.

Opposing player I'm scared of: Emeka Okafor.

I was against the Heat acquiring him when that seemed a possibility this summer, but that doesn't mean I don't respect his game. He's not crazy tall, but he's the kind of physical center that can pose a real problem for Udonis Haslem. It will be interesting to see how Haslem handles that.

Prediction: Miami 95, Charlotte 86

We'll see how the thin Heat rotation handles its first back-to-back, especially as it includes the travel from Fla. to N.C. Against most opponents, I'd be concerned. But this Bobcats team is a mess right now as Larry Brown seems destined to relive his Knicks tenure in Charlotte. Erik Spoelstra wins the coaching battle, and Miami wins the war.