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HHH GameTime Preview: Hornets visit Miami

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If the season ended today, the Heat would face the Hornets in the first round. They'll face off at the AmericanAirlines Arena tonight.

Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Tonight at 7:30PM, the Miami Heat will play the Charlotte Hornets at the AmericanAirlines Arena in Miami, FL. This is the fourth and final (regular season) contest between the two clubs this season. Miami defeated Charlotte here on opening night, 104-94, then Charlotte earned a 99-81 decision on their home court on December 9th. Miami won in Charlotte the last time they played, on February 5th, 98-95.

For the Heat, this is the second game of a three-game homestand. They started it out with a 124-119 win over the Denver Nuggets on Monday and will finish up on Saturday night against the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Charlotte just finished a seven-game homestand, winning five in a row and finishing 6-1. After tonight's quick one-game road-trip, they'll go home to play the Nuggets on Saturday and the San Antonio Spurs on Monday night.

On February 5th, Miami defeated the Hornets, 98-95 in Charlotte. Hassan Whiteside got exactly a triple-double, with 10 points, 10 rebounds, and 10 blocked shots. Adding to the cause were Dwyane Wade (22 points, five assists), Chris Bosh (20 points, six rebounds), and Goran Dragic (12 points, nine assists, eight rebounds). Marvin Williams had a game-high 27 points in a losing cause for Charlotte.

I was at the YMCA around the corner two years ago; now I'm here. When a ball is around my elbow area, I'm going to try and catch it. - Whiteside

At The Hive has more on Charlotte.

In Miami's last game, on Monday, they defeated the Denver Nuggets by a count of 124-119. Six Heat players scored at least 17 points, led by Justise Winslow's 20. Dwyane Wade had 19 with five helpers, Joe Johnson had 18 with five assists, Hassan Whiteside scored 18 with 10 rebounds, Luol Deng scored 17 with eight boards, and Josh Richardson had 17. Kenneth Faried had a perfect night from the field, making all 11 shots and finishing with 24 and 11 rebounds in a losing effort.

Give Miami credit, first and foremost. I think Spo does a great job ... but any time you allow a team to score 124 and shoot 60 percent from the field, it's going to make for a long night. - Nuggets coach Michael Malone

Denver Stiffs has more on the Nuggets.

Last night, the Hornets defeated the Orlando Magic, 107-99 to close out Charlotte's seven-game homestand. Nicolas Batum and Marvin Williams each scored 26. Batum also had nine assists and seven rebounds, while Williams tacked on nine boards. Cody Zeller pitched in with 13 points and 13 rebounds, while Kemba Walker finished with 16 points and eight rebounds. Victor Oladipo scored 25 to lead the Magic.

For Magic news, go to Orlando Pinstriped Post.

GameTime: 7:30PM, FS-Sun, FS-SE

All-Time Heat-to-Head: Miami is 57-38 in 95 games versus the Hornets. Their 60% winning clip ranks as their fifth-best record against any franchise.

Standings

Miami Heat: 39-28, .582, on pace for 48-34. First in the Southeast Division (by 0.5 games over the Atlanta Hawks), third in the Eastern Conference (1.0 games separate third through sixth), tied for eighth in the NBA (with the Memphis Grizzlies). Last Five: W-L-W-L-W. Playoff Odds: 99.4%

Charlotte Hornets: 38-29, .567, on pace for 47-35. Third in the Southeast Division, sixth in the Eastern Conference, 11th in the NBA. Last Five: W-W-W-L-W. Playoff Odds: 98.5%

Milestone to Watch

Dwyane Wade needs 24 points to cross over 20,000. He will be the 41st player to reach the mark all-time in the association.

Roster Report

Injuries

Miami Heat: Hassan Whiteside is a game-time decision with an undisclosed ailment. Tyler Johnson is probably out for the rest of the season, and Chris Bosh may make an appearance as early as next week.

Charlotte Hornets: Spencer Hawes is due back in a few games, but Michael Kidd-Gilchrist is out for the season.

Starters

Miami Heat
PG - Goran Dragic
SG - Dwyane Wade
C - Amar'e Stoudemire
SF - Joe Johnson
PF - Luol Deng

Charlotte Hornets
PG - Kemba Walker
SG - Courtney Lee
C - Cody Zeller
SF - Nicolas Batum
PF - Marvin Williams

Tune in tonight for the tipoff at 7:30PM, join us in the gamethread if you like, and of course, Happy St. Patrick's Day.