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Game preview: Miami Heat vs. New Orleans Hornets

Hello All, Wednesday night the red hot Miami Heat (pun very much intended) will be in New Orleans to play the Hornets. As if I wasn’t already going to be rooting on the Heat on Wednesday night, I will have extra reason. As a young man born in Charlotte, N.C. in 1987, the first professional team in any sport I ever fell in love with was the Charlotte Hornets. "The Sting" featured Mugsy Bogues, Alonzo Mourning and Larry Johnson. They had one of the great all time three point snipers in Dell Curry. They had a designated "Don’t You Dare F%ck With My Teammates" guy in Kenny Gattison. They had "The Chief" Robert Parrish at the end of his career. They absolutely captivated me. And then, just as quickly, they were torn away from me. To quote Sigourney Weaver in Avatar: "They pissed on me and didn’t even have the decency to call it rain." The franchise relocation made me an NBA Orphan, a state I still exist in to this day. I just can’t get attached enough to one team to call myself a fan; I have been traumatized like a guy who got cheated on one time too many. I root for players, and I root for great moments. I even root against certain teams, like the Lakers. Because of the Hornets, I will never know the great thrill of watching MY team win a title. The Bobcats are a joke that I could never get into; I had moved away from the city by the time they came around. I am not a bandwagon jumper, and the only young team that really excites me, the Thunder, did the same thing to Seattle fans. Thanks Hornets, you stay classy. Projected Starters Miami Heat PG- Carlos Arroyo SG- Dwyane Wade SF- Quentin Richardson PF- Michael Beasley C- Jermaine O'Neal New Orleans Hornets PG- Chris Paul SG- Devin Brown SF- Peja Stojaković PF- David West C- Emeka Okafor The Heat really only seem to have an advantage at shooting guard, where Wade should dominate Brown when they are matched up. However, the Hornets can bring in James Posey off the bench to take a turn covering Wade, which might slow him down a little. Posey is not as good as he was for the Heat and Celtics, but he is a veteran perimeter defender who can still be a pain for fellow wingmen. The Heat shouldn’t expect much offense out of their bigs going up against Okafor, but the Hornets are hurting for frontcourt depth while Sean Marks sits out injured. If the Heat can get Okafor in foul trouble, O’Neal can be effective, as he was against the Pacers. Stats Breakdown Effective Field Goal % The Heat rank 17th in the league at 49.3%, while the Hornets rank 18th at 48.9% EDGE: Even Turnover % The Heat are 2nd in the league at 12.4%, while the Hornets are 5th at 13.7%. EDGE: Even Offensive Rebound % The Heat are 22nd in the league at 25.3%, while the Hornets are 21st at 25.5% EDGE: Even Free Throw Rate The Heat are 7th in the league at 32.5%, while the Hornets are 29th at 24.1%. EDGE: Heat (Big) Well, this is an interesting matchup. Thanks as usual to Statsheet.com for the statistics. The teams appear to be almost identical in every aspect except for free throw rate, which is a measure of getting to the line and converting your free throws. The Heat are 16-12, while the Hornets are 13-15. Is free throw shooting alone responsible for a six-game swing? I checked it out, and the Hornets haven’t usually been within a basket when they lose. If they aren’t losing close games, then I figured they probably played a harder schedule. Until I checked that out and found that the Heat’s SOS ranks 3rd in the league, while the Hornets’ ranks 6th. The conclusion? I have no idea. Something just isn’t right in New Orleans. The Heat have been hot lately, but the Hornets are 11-3 at home. The Heat really don’t have anyone to match up with Paul, and West can bully around Beasley in the post when Haslem isn’t in the game. When Haslem is in the game, the Heat lose Beasley’s much needed offense. Pick your poison. I think that Paul and Wade will both have their usual big nights and this game will be decided by who plays better in the paint. I give the edge to the Hornets based upon that and the aforementioned performance boost that they get playing at home (for whatever reason). And remember, always guard the inbound passer.