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GAME PREVIEW: Miami Heat (27-21) ends brief home stand by hosting the Charlotte Hornets (20-27)

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Losers in three of their last four games, the Miami face the only team they have beaten in 10 days.

Sacramento Kings v Miami Heat Photo by Issac Baldizon/NBAE via Getty Images

The Miami Heat (27-21) face the Charlotte Hornets (20-27) for second time in a little over a week. The Hornets enter the game on second night of a back-to-back set and third game in four nights. The Heat’s previous last-minute win over the Hornets was a scheduled loss, so expect another another thrilling game in AmericanAirlines Arena.

INJURY UPDATE: Tyler Johnson warming up with intention to play.

Game Information

When: Saturday, January 27 at 7:30 p.m. ET

Where: AmericanAirlines Arena, Miami, FL

TV: Fox Sports Sun, NBATV

Radio: WAXY 790AM, WAQI 710AM (Spanish)

Win probability: ESPN predictor gives Miami a 62% chance to win the game.

Probable Starters

HEAT: Goran Dragic, Tyler Johnson, Josh Richardson, James Johnson, Hassan Whiteside

HORNETS: Kemba Walker, Nicolas Batum, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Marvin Williams, Dwight Howard

Injury Report

HEAT: Rodney McGruder (out, tibia surgery), Okaro White (out, foot surgery), Dion Waiters (out, ankle sprain), Tyler Johnson (probable, sprained ankle)

HORNETS: Tyler Zeller (out)

Scouting Report

Both Charlotte and Miami are 6-4 in their last 10 games. The Hornets are 6-13 on the road, while the Heat is 12-10 at home. Miami has won 19 of 30 games against Eastern Conference teams. Charlotte has won 10 of their 25 games versus teams in the East.

Dragic leads the Heat in points per game (17.4) and assists (4.8), Whiteside in rebounds (11.9) and blocks (1.8), Richardson in steals (1.3). Walker leads the Hornets in points per game (21.7), assists (5.9), and steals (1.2), Howard in rebounds (12.7) and blocks (1.6).

The ESPN NBA Power Index (BPI) has the Hornets at 16th, ranked ahead of the Heat at 20th among all NBA teams. The BPI Playoff Odds predicts the Heat to wind up 4th in the East with a 44-38 record, down a notch from the previous forecast of 45 wins.

Miami won the previous three games against the Hornets by a combined total of 12 points. In each of those games the Heat scored at least 100 points: 105 in a 105-100 win on Dec. 1 at AmericanAirlines Arena; 104 in a 104-98 victory on Dec. 15 at the Spectrum Center; 106 in the last-second 106-105 win in Charlotte.

Against the Hornets this season, Wayne Ellington and Richardson were the leading scorers with 56 and 55 points respectively, and making a blistering 55.6% of their 3-pointers. Whiteside was in only one game versus Howard, who outplayed both of Miami’s centers. Dragic under-performed in 2 games with a +/- of -13, and Justise Winslow struggled, as the Heat were outscored by 29 points while he was on the court for two games.

Walker, Batum and Howard all had positive +/- against Miami, but the other Hornet players were held in check. Batum did especially well with 21 assists and 44 points in his three games against the Heat.

Whiteside the piñata

Lately Whiteside and the Heat have gotten the tough love treatment as famously stated by Friedrich Nietzsche, “That which does not destroy me, makes me stronger.” After Miami scored a pitiful 88 and 90 points in its last two games, Erik Spoelstra sees Hassan at quarterback as the Heat’s Tom Brady and lead the team to its first win wearing VICE uniforms.

“But he’s been getting better. He just needs a ton of reps. He has to be absolutely committed in practice and player development on working on those reads like a quarterback would.”