The Heat goes for a third straight win over a projected postseason team as it faces an absolutely stacked Hornets team to close out a quick and dirty mini-road trip of Western Conference powers.
New Orleans has a problematic player at every position, bookended by the unstoppable Chris Paul at point and perhaps my favorite non-Heat player, Tyson Chandler, in the middle. Past that you've got All-Star David West and shooters Peja Stojakovic, Morris Peterson and our old friend James Posey. Weapons abound, and I don't see the Hornets futzing around anymore after a tough loss to Atlanta and a disappointing fade against the Bobcats. Can the Heat continue the Southeast's dominance of the Hornets?
Matchup of the night: Chris Paul vs. Mario Chalmers.
Chalmers got a pass on the first half of his All-Star point guard gauntlet when Spurs star Tony Parker went down to injury early in Friday's game. That doesn't make tonight any easier. Again, I'll happily take Chalmers holding his own against Paul, one of league's two or three most difficult players to harness defensively. Godspeed, Superintendent.
Opposing player I'm scared of: David West.
A subplot of the Chalmers into-the-fire tour is the task of Michael Beasley, who will take on West a night after encountering Tim Duncan. While Beasley-Duncan was dilluted by cross-matchups, the rookie will likely have to deal with West all night, as Haslem will be preoccupied with the towering Chandler and Shawn Marion will spend his evening bouncing off of screens in pursuit of Stojakovic. Beasley is figuring it out at an accelerated rate now, but New Orleans might pick on him defensively with the pick-and-pops that West feasts on. The education continues.