It's hard to follow a 33-point beatdown with thoughtful analysis about what exactly went wrong. In games like that, one of the teams usually isn't ready to match the intensity of their opposition. Sunday's game looked very much like that.
It seems like the Hornets put their best foot forward in Game 6 and didn't have the health and/or energy to go another 48 minutes. Nicolas Batum was visibly hobbled after returning from a foot injury. Cody Zeller, Jeremy Lin and Marvin Williams looked okay physically, yet all had their own stinkers with their respective injuries. Each of them (and especially Batum) actually have to be commended for risking further injury in a contract year. Spencer Hawes also missed the last two games of the series.
That's not to downplay the effort and strength of the Miami Heat, though. Hassan Whiteside and Josh Richardson, for example, had their own health troubles as well. However, the Heat were better equipped to withstand those problems thanks to their depth. Moreover, you cannot attribute a blowout so lopsided to energy levels alone. All in all, the Heat simply performed better in just about every way.
A few details before finishing this season's last notes and observations piece on a Charlotte Hornets game...
Heat out-rebounding the Hornets in the first quarter
Offensive rebounds were a huge part of the 11-point advantage that Miami gained in the first quarter. The Hornets grabbed only seven of the thirteen available defensive rebounds (good for a defensive rebounding percentage of 53.8).
It was yet another instance of the battle Charlotte has lost down there during this series. Following a three-peat in leading the league in defensive rebound percentage (with the mark of 79.8 percent), the Hornets were down to 75.9 percent in the seven post-season games, which would have been good for the 18th place in this year's regular season.
Meanwhile, Miami's was monstrous on the boards with a defensive rebounding percentage of 84.1, which reduced Charlotte's already-limited chances for extra possessions (due to abandoning the offensive glass by scheme) even more.
Some of Sunday's troubles were missed box-outs and mistakes by Al Jefferson and Frank Kaminsky. Some were caused by the physicality of Hassan Whiteside. But the main theme of those scraps was Whiteside getting way too close to the rim when crashing the glass.
Even with Cody Zeller attempting to box Whiteside out, it's a lost battle due to Zeller himself being stuffed underneath the basket.
Goran Dragic driving and scoring at will
The Slovenian point guard recorded 12 drives in Game 7, per SportVU data. All of the seven times he attempted a field goal, he scored the bucket.
Whenever Dragic played the pick-and-pop with a threat from outside (like Joe Johnson), he was determined to get to the rack by jetting through the long-arm show that Charlotte's four-man performed.
To make matters worse, the Dragon absolutely had his way with Kemba Walker as he used his size and strength to go at Walker on drives.
With Kemba's terrific season withstanding, these are the shortcomings of having him on your team in a playoff series. Obviously, there were other aspects that determined the outcome of this match-up (the Heat's strategy to stay home on shooters, ultimately, working more times than not being the biggest one, in my opinion), however, this will also go down as a part of a loss in a Game 7 for this franchise, as will his poor game on offense,
In certain unfavorable match-ups Walker's lack of size can be exploited and it doesn't necessarily need to be a "post-up point guard".
There, of course, are ways around that. Per example, having Michael Kidd-Gilchrist on your team instantly increases your options for switching up assignments in a playoff series.
But with that in mind, it won't be even close to being among the most important decisions the Hornets front office will have to make this summer. Let's hope that they will help the team to make the next step. Now that the Horncats have won some playoff games, a playoff series victory should be next.
Thanks to everyone who was read and commented on these notes and observations pieces throughout this season! Cheers!