When: Wednesday, October 28, 7:30 PM EST
Where: American Airlines Arena, Miami, FL
Television: FOX Sports Southeast, Sun Sports
Congratulations, fellow basketball fan. You have done it — you have survived another basketball offseason! Your reward: Getting to watch the Charlotte Hornets travel south to take out division rival and long-time thorn-in-their-side Miami Heat.
At this point, you know all of the story lines involving the Hornets — the new offensive emphasis on the 3 (and actually sticking to it this year hopefully), the loss of Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, can the team keep their defensive identity with all the injuries and losses in the offseason, etc.
The Heat should provide Charlotte with a solid test to see just where the Hornets fit in the East. Miami is a trendy pick by experts to emerge from the Eastern Conference to the NBA Finals, thanks to their strong depth. Dwyane Wade and Charlotte-killer Chris Bosh remain the two faces of the franchise, but Miami will now get to enjoy a full season of Goran Dragic along with Justise Winslow coming off the bench. Miami has given Charlotte fits for years, winning 16 straight contests before the two franchises split the season series last year.
Things to watch for
Commitment to stay away from Al-fense?
The Hornets looked more like the Houston Rockets in the preseason, jacking up 25.8 3s per game (compared to just 11.6 midrange shots) and making 36.1 percent of their deep shots (sixth-best in the Association). Has the team's hot offense cooled off at all? If things start going south, will they revert back to giving Al Jefferson the ball in the post?
Still stingy D?
No MKG. No Bismack Biyombo. Cody Zeller is your best rim protector. The Charlotte Hornets have been known as one of the best defensive in the league since Steve Clifford took over, but can they continue that strong defensive identity this season?
Play nice with the new kids
There are a LOT of new pieces with the Hornets. They have all looked great together in preseason, but will that roll over into the regular season? Will Jeremy Lin, who will most likely start the game off the bench, finish the game with Kemba Walker? How much playing time will the new towering trio of Spencer Hawes, Frank Kaminsky and Tyler Hansbrough get?
Possible Starting Lineups
|PG||Kemba Walker||Goran Dragic|
|SG||P.J. Hairston||Dwyane Wade|
|SF||Nicolas Batum||Luol Deng|
|PF||Cody Zeller/Marvin Williams||Chris Bosh|
|C||Al Jefferson||Hassan Whiteside|