Tonight the Charlotte Hornets will take their talents to South Beach and hope to take a three games to two lead over the Miami Heat. A win would make the next two games an elimination game for the Heat, including Game 6 in Charlotte on Friday.
The Hornets have won in Miami this year (back in late March), but the two playoff games on the road went horribly. The Miami Heat shot historically from the field in American Airlines Arena. Both games they shot over 57 percent from the field.
Since the second game of the series, Coach Clifford and the Hornets have dared the Heat to shoot. The Hornets figured the Heat shooting percentages would have to regress as the Heat are not a great jump-shooting team. This strategy worked the last two games as the Heat shot under 40 percent in each of the last two games.
Will the Heat continue to shoot poorly tonight?
Tonight will be the third game in five days for both of these teams. The quick turnaround and travel will take its toll on players during a physical series. In general, the older you are the longer it takes to recover. The Heat are the fifth oldest team in the NBA, and on average are 2.7 years older than the Charlotte Hornets. Coach Erik Spoelstra might be noticing some fatigue in his team because in Game 4 he played 11 players in a game that went down to the final seconds.
The last two losses seem to have frustrated the Heat quite a bit. After the game the Heat spent a lot of time complaining about the officiating as you can see here and here and here. Hassan Whiteside even went as far as to call this series the "flop-offs". Regardless of how each game has been officiated, you generally do not see veteran-led teams act like this. It could definitely be a sign that the Heat are rattled.
So what will the Hornets do in Game 5?
Well, offensively the Hornets have yet to reach their potential this series. In fact, they haven't even equaled their regular season shooting percentage in any of the four games. At some point, one would think the Hornets shots have to fall at a higher rate.
Also, theres this:
INJURY REPORT: @hornets Game 5— Charlotte Hornets PR (@HornetsPR) April 26, 2016
Nic Batum (left foot strain) is QUESTIONABLE
MKG (R shoulder) is OUT
Nicolas Batum coming back would be make a huge difference as the Hornets backcourt saw a lot of minutes last game. It is really encouraging to see Batum running, jumping, and shooting.
BUZZ WORDS: Hornets Playoff Notebook@nicolas88batum Back on Court Prior to Game 5https://t.co/VyXxMMXrGe pic.twitter.com/lSf8XmN1uJ— Charlotte Hornets (@hornets) April 27, 2016
The Hornets will dare the Heat to shoot again tonight. If the Heat shoot like they did in the first two games, then the Hornets will be in trouble. If not, then look for the Hornets to come back to the Queen City with a chance to eliminate the Heat at the Hive.