• Miami HEAT at Charlotte Hornets Game 6 Thread and Preview

    Photo Credit: Kent Smith The Miami HEAT face the Charlotte Hornets Friday night at Time Warner Cable Arena in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference First Round. The HEAT fell to the Hornets 90-88 in Game 5, which gave Charlotte a 3-2 advantage in the series. Tip-off is set for 8:00 PM. Television coverage on FOX Sports Sun begins at 7:30 PM. You can also listen to the action live on 790 The Ticket. 1: What did Charlotte do to take the win in Miami on Wednesday night? Couper Moorhead: You have to give them credit as Charlotte played a very good, very poised game on the road. The HEAT were mixing in all sorts of coverages while still playing tight on the perimeter and the Hornets guards could have been thrown out of sorts by those moves. Instead, they adapted on the fly and started playing less for the drive – as they were doing in pick-and-roll with Miami shutting off three – and hunting for Miami’s rotation so they could get off some threes.  The margins were still incredibly narrow. It wasn’t as though the Hornets found some magical solution, they just executed well enough to buy their shooters enough space. And their shooters made shots. With how well both teams are defending, that was all it took for Charlotte to take the 3-2 series lead. Well, that and another timely offensive rebound. Joe Beguiristain: While the Hornets shot just 39.3 percent for the game, they made timely buckets down the stretch to obtain the victory. The biggest shot of the night was a 3-pointer from Courtney Lee that gave Charlotte a two-point lead with 25.2 seconds left. Just before the shot, Lee obtained an offensive rebound to keep his team’s possession alive. Overall, the HEAT kept Kemba Walker and Jeremy Lin at bay after the duo played well in Charlotte. But Lee, Nicolas Batum and Marvin Williams proved to be the difference in Game 5. On the flip side of the ball, the Hornets did a nice job on the defensive end and continued to pack the paint. That said, Dwyane Wade still had a masterful performance and scored 25-points on 11-of-19 shooting. He also made a nice play in defensive transition to force a miss from Lee at the rim, but it unfortunately wasn’t enough this time around. 2: What will the HEAT need to improve tonight? Couper: They just need to shrink those aforementioned margins and come up with more loose balls. While the HEAT tweaked a few things in Game 5, neither team is going to make a dramatic scheme shift at this point in the series. The HEAT are still going to try to take away Charlotte’s three while limiting their paint penetration as much as possible – they just have to do a better job of managing that balancing act. But as both coaches have said multiple times, this series is so even and so competitive that games are coming down to who can perfect the details and come up with the most energy plays. Some of the shooting Miami had in Games 1 and 2 would be nice, but shooting alone isn’t going to carry them on the road. They have to fight for every ball and then have the energy to push in transition as much as possible. Joe: Miami will need to get things going on the offensive end. That includes taking better care of the ball than it has for the past three games. Case in point: the HEAT committed 14 turnovers in Game 5, which led to 16 points for the Hornets. In a series like this with two evenly matched teams, that can make all the difference between winning and losing. As been the case all season, Miami was at its best Wednesday night when getting out in transition. If the team can play faster on the road in a hostile environment, it will have a great chance at forcing a Game 7. Of course, pushing the pace is all predicated on playing good defense and either forcing misses or turnovers. Based on how the HEAT have fared defensively in this series — forcing Charlotte to shoot just 40.7 percent — all should be fine. 3: Who could have a big game tonight to move the series back to Miami? Couper: I’m going with Goran Dragic here. Joe Johnson and Luol Deng could certainly get hot from three given how much Charlotte is rotating help into the paint – and some of Miami’s best looks have been swing passes to shooters created by pick-and-roll spacing – but the best thing Miami had going for it in Game 5 was the increased emphasis on pace after the team had zero fast-break points in Game 4. Dragic still had a tough shooting night, but he’s the straw that stirs the drink for Miami’s up-tempo ideals and if Dragic can lead 10-15 fast-breaks on the road that will go a long way for Miami’s offense. Joe: I believe Luol Deng could be in for a big night in Charlotte. After some torrid shooting performances in Games 1 through 3, Deng has cooled off a bit. That said, the 31-year-old is still getting great looks from the perimeter thanks to the Hornets’ commitment to not give up anything inside. While Charlotte has done a nice job of protecting the paint, Deng has used head-fakes and shot-fakes to get to the basket when his defender closes out aggressively. On the defensive end, the former Blue Devil should be just as impactful. In fact, Deng tallied a 96.7 defensive efficiency rating in the last two games. We’ll see if the vet can keep up his strong play in a "do-or-die" Game 6. Highlights: Game 5 Game 4 Game Notes: Miami is 5-1 in its last six games when facing elimination. Dwyane Wade leads the HEAT in points (19.6) and assists (6.0) per game in the postseason. Kemba Walker leads the Hornets in points (22.6), assists (3.4), steals (1.2) and blocks (0.8) per contest in the playoffs.


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