Tonight at 7:30 PM EST, the Miami Heat will host the Charlotte Hornets, at the AmericanAirlines Arena in Miami, Florida. This will be the third of four games between the two this season. The Hornets won the first two, 97-91 in Charlotte on October 28th and 91-82 in Miami on December 29th. Kemba Walker led Charlotte with 22 points, seven rebounds and four assists. Nicolas Batum scored 16 with 13 boards, eight assists and three steals, Marvin Williams had 13 points, and Jeremy Lamb came off the bench for 10 points and nine rebounds. For the Heat, Josh Richardson scored 20 points with four rebounds, Tyler Johnson had 18 points with seven rebounds and five assists, and Wayne Ellington scored 12 points on four three pointers.
Miami is playing in the first game of a two-game homestand, and will play seven of their next eight on their home hardcourt. They’ll play the Toronto Raptors on Saturday night before hitting the road for a showdown with the Indiana Pacers on Sunday. The Hornets are on a one-game road trip, and will return home for a three game series after tonight. They’ll play the Orlando Magic on Friday, the New Orleans Pelicans on Saturday, and the Chicago Bulls on Monday.
In Miami’s last game, their 19th win out of 23 contests, they defeated the defending NBA Champion Cleveland Cavaliers, on the road by a 106-98 final score. Dion Waiters scored 29 with five assists, Goran Dragic had 21 with six helpers, Wayne Ellington sank five-of-10 three pointers to finish with 18 points, and Hassan Whiteside scored 13 with 11 rebounds. LeBron James scored 30 with 17 rebounds and six assists to lead the Cavs, and Kyrie Irving led everyone with 32 points, along with seven boards and three dimes.
We believe in ourselves first and foremost. If other people don't, I think we did a good job of opening their eyes by the way we've been playing. We've just got to continue to fly under the radar, just keep piling wins up and make that push. - Waiters
The Hornets’ last game would see them defeat the Indiana Pacers, 100-88 in Charlotte on Monday night. Kemba Walker scored 28 with seven assists and six rebounds, Nicolas Batum had 21 with four helpers, four boards and three steals, Cody Zeller had 13 with 11 rebounds, and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist had 11 points with 13 rebounds. Paul George scored 36 with 10 rebounds and five helpers in defeat for the Pacers.
This is was an important win for us. To come off the road and come home and have a big game like this was a much-needed win. - Walker
GameTime: 7:30 PM EST, American Airlines Arena
All-Time Heat-to-Head: Miami is 57-41 all-time against the Hronets, a .582 win percentage which ranks eighth amongst all NBA franchises.
Odds: Miami currently has a 63.3% chance of victory, according to numberFire.com. They’re projected to win by a 102-99 final.
Heat: 30-34, .469, on pace for a 38-44 record. Third in the Southeast Division, 8.5 games behind the division leading Washington Wizards. Ninth in the Eastern Conference, 13.0 games behind current top seed Cleveland, 16th in the NBA, just ahead of the Western Conference eighth-seeded Denver Nuggets. Last Five: L-W-L-W-W. Playoff Odds: 42.6%.
Hornets: 28-35, .444, on pace for a 36-46 record. Fourth in the Southeast Division, 10.0 games behind the Wizards. 11th in the Eastern Conference, 14.5 games behind the Cavs, 19th in the NBA, just ahead of the Western Conference ninth place Portland Trail Blazers. Last Five: L-W-L-W-W. Playoff Odds: 25.0%.
PG - Goran Dragic
SG - Rodney McGruder
SF - Dion Waiters
PF - Luke Babbitt (GTD)
C - Hassan Whiteside
PG - Kemba Walker
SG - Nicolas Batum
SF - Michael Kidd-Gilchrist
PF - Marvin Williams
C - Cody Zeller