The Miami Heat will visit the Charlotte Bobcats tonight at 8 without four of its top five players -- LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Ray Allen and Mario Chalmers. For the third consecutive game, then, Chris Bosh will get a chance to stand as the first option.
Having already locked up the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference, Miami is only playing to have home-court advantage through the playoffs. The Heat's loss to the Knicks Tuesday didn't end up hurting Miami too badly in its chase for the best record in the NBA. The Spurs' loss last night to the Oklahoma City Thunder means that the Heat's magic number to clinch the best record is four -- any combination of Heat wins and Spurs/Thunder losses will suffice.
Considering the fact that Miami defeated the Spurs and competed with the Knicks for three quarters without its top three starters, one would think that the Heat are the favorite against a fellow NBA team without four of its top five players. The loss of Allen, who tweaked his ankle late in Miami's loss to New York, will hurt. Miami may need Mike Miller to have another dynamic game like he did Tuesday night. The Heat's offense will need to get creative when Bosh goes to the bench -- in Miami's two previous games, Miami at least had Allen in the game when Bosh rested. Perhaps we'll see the Heat post-up Shane Battier or Rashard Lewis during those stretches (oh, boy). However this game turns out, it seems a bit odd that ESPN will televise it.
Looking for Miami Heat tickets? Hot Hot Hoops has you covered.