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Game Preview: Miami Heat vs. Charlotte Bobcats

Hello All, Wednesday night the Heat will travel to Charlotte to play the Phantom Hornets Bobcats. The Bobcats beat the Heat in Miami on January 2nd, winning going away 107-97. The Bobcats have been on fire of late, winning 5 straight and 9 of 11, the best basketball in team history. Old-school coach Larry Brown has them heading to their first playoffs ever. PROJECTED STARTERS Heat Bobcats PG Alston R. Felton SG Wade S. Jackson SF Richardson G. Wallace PF Beasley B. Diaw C O’Neal N. Mohammed The Bobcats are lead by a young point guard and two of the best perimeter defenders in the conference, Jackson and Wallace. The Heat could not keep either off of the boards in the last game as they combined for 16 rebounds to lead the Bobcats to victory. Additionally, Jackson went off for 35 points. Obviously this must be addressed. The Bobcats’ strategy last time around was to concede Wade his points and hound everyone else, which worked pretty well. Beasley was held to 14 points and the Heat’s second leading scorer was Richardson. If the Bobcats can make the Heat settle for jumpers all night, they have to like their chances. Bobcats center Tyson Chandler was listed as day-to-day when I wrote this, but if he plays he is a much better matchup for O’Neal then Mohammed is. Otherwise, O’Neal should have a big night and help narrow the gap; the post (Beasley and O’neal vs. Diaw and Mohammed), after all, is where the Heat have the clear advantage in this one. STATISTICAL BREAKDOWN (via Statsheet.com; 1/19/10 Effective Field Goal % The Heat is 20th in the league at 48.9%; the Bobcats are 23rd at 48.5%. EDGE: Even Turnover % The Heat is 2nd in the league at 12.7%; the Bobcats are 30th at 15.8%. EDGE: Heat (Big) Offensive Rebound % The Heat is 17th in the league at 25.7%; the Bobcats are 21st at 25.4%. EDGE: Even Free Throw Rate The Heat is 16th in the league at 30.8%; the Bobcats are 4th at 33.9%. EDGE: Bobcats (Big) KEY TO THE GAME As you can see, this is a pretty even matchup and will come down to the same thing that it did last time: can the Heat keep Jackson and a now-banged up Wallace from destroying them on the glass. If Beasley has a better night (he has played well of late) and O’Neal takes advantage of Diaw down low, the Heat should be able to squeak out a win behind Wade. Always guard the inbound passer.