The Charlotte Hornets travel to Miami tonight to take on the Heat. Their divisional rivals are 3-1 on the season but have been winning games in a very different way than Charlotte has. In fact, tonight’s matchup will see the league’s best offense take on the league’s best defense.
Going into the season, a lot of people pegged Miami as one of the better defensive teams. With all the pieces they have, it’s not too hard to imagine. However, not many would have guessed that the Hornets would be the best offense in the NBA. The breakout of Miles Bridges has helped that along, but the team as a whole has just been performing super well.
The Miami Heat have gotten things done by absolutely smothering their opponents on defense. As of now, their opponents shoot only 39.2% from the field, the best in the league. On top of that, they hold opponents to 28.6% from three-point range, a mark which ranks second behind only the Utah Jazz. They have the best defensive rating at 92.0 and allow the least amount of points per game (95.0).
On the flip side, the Hornets’ offensive numbers are through the roof. They score a league-best 121.2 points per game, nearly 30 more points than the Heat tend to let up. They also shoot a league-best 41.3% from deep and shoot 47.3% from the field (4th in the NBA). They have the best offensive rating at 114.8 and are top-three in assists per game as well (27.0). Tonight will truly be a case of great offense going up against great defense.
Charlotte has a tall task in front of them, however, because the Heat match up well against them across the board. In fact, the Heat match up well with anyone across the board. With versatile defenders such as Jimmy Butler, PJ Tucker, and Bam Adebayo, it’ll be tough to generate many isolation opportunities. The Hornets are going to have to move the ball perfectly to get past the stone wall that is the Miami Heat.
So what wins? Does great offense beat great defense? Does great defense beat great offense? Tonight will be a great case study in finding out which of those statements is true. Regardless, this game vs. Miami will be a big-time “prove it” game for Charlotte where they can show the rest of the league that their offensive success thus far has been anything but a fluke.