Charlotte Bobcats vs. Miami Heat: Preview, Analysis and Predictions
In the spirit of the ongoing NCAA tournament, the NBA is showcasing its own No. 1 vs. No. 16 matchup.
The Miami Heat, winners of 25 straight and owners of the best record in the league, are the massive university from the power conference with a slew of 5-star recruits.
The Charlotte Bobcats, winners of 16 games all season, are the tiny state school that no one has heard of until they barely scraped through their conference tournament.
Oh, and the game's being played at the campus of the massive university.
Does David have any chance of doing what over 100 other Davids haven't been able to do on the collegiate scene? Can he knock off Goliath in the giant's house?
Let's find out.
Where: American Airline Arena, Miami, Fla.
When: Sunday, March 24, 6 p.m. ET
Watch: Sun Sports/SSO-CHA
Live Stream: NBA League Pass (paid subscription required)
Betting Line: Miami -18.5 (according to Vegas Insider)
Bobcats Injuries (via USA Today)
C DeSagana Diop, Knee, Doubtful
C Brendan Haywood, Ankle, Out
G Ramon Sessions, Knee, Out
Heat Injuries (via USA Today)
No significant injuries to note.
Bobcats Player to Watch: Kemba Walker
If anyone is going to thrive in the up-tempo pace that the Heat will likely force on this game, it's Kemba Walker.
The second-year star out of UConn has done a fine job quickly establishing himself as an effective all-around point guard, capable of running an offense and contributing everyone on the court. On the season, he is averaging 17.1 points, 5.6 assists, 3.4 rebounds and 2.0 steals per contest.
But when it comes down to it, Walker, who is one of the best ball-handlers and penetrating guards in the league, is still most dangerous in transition and in a free-flowing game.
He'll get exactly that against Miami.
Heat Player to Watch: LeBron James
Is there anything that can be said about James that hasn't already been said?
The 6'8", 250-pound barreling, athletic, strong, intelligent forward/guard/everything else is having one of the best individual seasons of all time.
James is shooting an unfair 55.4 percent from the field (along with 39.3 percent from deep and 75.0 percent from the line) en route to 26.7 points, 8.2 rebounds, 7.3 assists, 1.7 steals and 0.9 blocks per game.
His PER is a comedic 31.07.
I usually try to reserve this section for someone not so obvious, but James is the guy you'll be telling your grandchildren about.
So, yeah, watch him. Like, only him. Don't pay attention to anyone or anything else.
Key Matchup: Josh McRoberts, Bismack Biyombo and Byron "B.J." Mullens Inside
I can't believe I just typed that.
But if the Heat have a weakness, it's on the inside. According to Basketball-Reference.com, they are 26th in the league in offensive rebounding percentage and 22nd on the defensive glass.
Mullens is more of a unique outside threat, and he is about as inconsistent as a circle is round, but he certainly has the size to do some work against Miami's front line.
Moreover, McRoberts has been coming on strong lately, averaging 10.0 points and 7.4 rebounds per game over the last two weeks.
Finally, Biyombo adds athleticism, rim-protecting ability and size.
If the trio is able to have solid, productive games on the inside, Charlotte stands a chance of at least keeping things close.
Who ya got?
The Heat have been coming out of the gate slow lately, and the Bobcats have some young, talented players capable of thriving in this matchup.
So, yes, I'm going to do it.
I'm going to predict that Michael Jordan's Charlotte Bobcats do the impossible and...cover the spread.
Heat make it 26 in a row. Move along.
Bobcats 82, Heat 100
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