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Miami Heat vs. Charlotte Bobcats Preview -- Game 2

Gorillaz - Empire Ants (Live on Letterman) ft. Little Dragon (via GorillazVEVO)

Game Overview: As if the Bobcats (and the rest of the league) don't have enough to worry about when playing the Miami Heat with the Big Three and all their fancy uniforms and shoes, what with all their dunking and making shots and what not, now they have to worry about Norris Cole. I mean, come on. Cole was drilling daggers and getting the benefit of awful (AWFUL) charge calls at the end of the game last night against the Boston Celtics like a seasoned vet. He dropped two shots right between the eyes in the waning moments of that game that were pure string music. Can it continue for a full (66-game) season and through the playoffs? That remains to be seen but he certainly looked up to the challenge last night.

The Heat were in prime position to put the finishing touches on a classic choke job as the C’s were roaring back in the final quarter and had the chance to cut the Miami lead down to five. That’s when Cole slid in front of Brandon Bass and the refs missed one of the worst charge/block calls you’ll see all season. (Seriously, just take the call out of the game. Remove the circle; take it out of the officials’ hands because they can’t get it right. It’s essentially a toss-up each time. It’s not that difficult but it is a bang-bang play. If you’re not going to review each one because that would take forever, just take it out of the game. Make guys defend.)

But credit Cole, he made the effort to get in position, he just didn’t. The officials made the call and it benefitted the Heat. As did having Cole in uniform because you know how many Heat players made shots from the field after that play? One, Cole. The only other points scored by anyone else were two free throws by Dwayne Wade. Under three minutes, in crunch time, Cole hit three jumpers and made two free throws to seal the win….decent draft pick.

And we haven’t even mentioned the Heat have the two best finishers in the game, the best player in the game, and Chris Bosh who everyone loves to kill but would kill to have a player like him on their team. The Heat also look a little pissed off. What they did to Dallas on Christmas day was scary. Sure, Dallas looked old and tired, and the Heat wanted to prove something that day, but it looks like the Heat want to prove something this season.

That makes this matchup against the Bobcats tonight interesting. These are the games that elite teams with a killer instinct come out and extinguish all hope of an upset early, and keep pouring it on. There is sure to be a good crowd in Time Warner Cable Arena tonight. The crowd for opening night was great and 100% behind the Bobcats. I’d expect to see a few more visiting team’s jerseys in the stands tonight but the place will still be full. If Miami comes out and imposes its will on Charlotte early, it could be a long night for the Bobcats. The problem is stopping LeBron James, Wade and Bosh. The other problem is the Bobcats don’t really have anyone who can do that.

Miami isn’t overpowering inside, but we all know the Bobcats’ situation down low and teams don’t really need to be overpowering. Bosh is a tough cover for the Cats down low and particularly for Desagna Diop, because he moves. Boris Diaw will no doubt spend some time on Bosh as well and that’s not much better for the Cats. What I’ve seen out of a slimmed-down D.J. White is encouraging. If he can stay out of foul trouble he might be able to bother Bosh. If Byron Mullens can play as well as he did in the opening game all season he’ll be a huge get for Rich Cho and company offensively. Spreading the floor by making those outside jumpers will help the rest of Charlotte’s offense.

But let’s face it; if it comes to shutting down Chris Bosh then Charlotte fans should consider themselves lucky. Wade and James are going to look to run and punish from the get go. Corey Maggette and Gerald Henderson are both athletic enough to stay with those two, but the offensive prowess of those two Heat players is just tough to contain. Your best hope is to still make James, and Wade really, fire from the outside and keep them from slashing to the basket and worse, getting to the free throw line.

Injury Report: Tyrus Thomas is still out tonight and will not play. D.J. Augustin is nursing a sprained ankle but will play tonight. Augustin said he’s not confident of how well he’ll be able to move laterally. Eduardo Najera and Reggie Williams are both out with their knee injuries.

Key Matchup: Gerald Henderson vs Dwayne Wade and Corey Maggette vs LeBron James. Simple enough, right? As much as I’d like to put D.J. or Kemba Walker vs. Noris Cole (Mario Chalmers is still the starter, for now) stopping the Heat still comes down to containing these two guys. If James is allowed to be effective in the post it’s certainly going to be an even longer night.