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Preview: Can Malik Monk drop 30 (again) versus Miami for a season sweep of the Heat?

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Malik Monk has returned just in time to once again scorch the Heat

Charlotte Hornets v Miami Heat Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images

What: Charlotte Hornets (31-32) vs Miami Heat (34-30)

When: 8:00 pm EST

Where: Spectrum Center; Charlotte, NC

How to watch: Bally Sports Southeast, NBA League Pass

This will be the third and final regular season meeting between these two teams. The Hornets won both previous matchups, a 129-121 overtime road win and a 110-105 home victory. Let’s see if the Hornets can close out the regular season with a series sweep.

Both LaMelo Ball and Malik Monk returned from injury yesterday, which is key. In the two previous meetings against the Heat this season Monk dropped 36 and 32 points, respectively. Let’s see if he can drop another 30-spot tonight.

This is a big game, folks. The Heat currently sit at No. 7 in the Eastern Conference and have a 2.5 game lead on the No. 8 Hornets. A home victory tonight for Charlotte could trim the Heat’s lead for No. 7 to just 1.5 games, and anything can happen before the regular season ends.

Miami Heat overview

The defending Eastern Conference champions have been super streaky this year. After an 11-1 stretch from mid-February through mid-March the Heat then dropped six straight. They followed that skid with a 6-1 stretch then have leveled out by going 6-5 over their last 11 games.

Miami’s trade deadline acquisition of guard Victor Oladipo hasn’t panned out. He played just four games before injuring his knee and has missed the last 12 games. Second year guard Tyler Herro has missed time recently with a foot injury and didn’t travel with the team for this game, so Miami’s backcourt is looking a bit thin.

We all know who the Heat are at this point. Jimmy Butler (21.7 PPG, 7.0 RPG, 7.2 APG) is the team’s alpha. Center Bam Adebayo (19.2 PPG, 9.1 RPG, 5.2 APG) brings versatility on both the offensive and defensive ends. Wing Duncan Robinson is automatic from the 3-point line. Trevor Ariza, Goran Dragic, and Andre Iguodala bring unspectacular but consistent veteran savvy. Coach Erik Spoelstra is one of the best in the game.

How the Hornets can win

First, it would help for Monk to drop 30-plus points again.

Next, let’s hope for continued excellent scoring from Miles Bridges, Terry Rozier, PJ Washington, and Devonte’ Graham - whom I’m calling the “Default Four” - who have each been averaging about 20 points per game over the last two weeks. LaMelo’s return came just in time as Devonte’ missed last night’s game with a right knee contusion. Let’s hope Graham can go tonight. The prospects of throwing both LaMelo and Malik back into the mix with the Default Four makes me downright giddy. Ball is too big for Kendrick Nunn (6-foot-2) and too fast for Goran Dragic (he’ll turn 35 in four days) or any other of the Heat wings not named Jimmy Butler. Monk has simply scorched the Heat this season.

Let’s hope the Hornets can secure a huge home win tonight.

Poll

What do you predict for tonight’s game?

This poll is closed

  • 9%
    Hornets win easy
    (10 votes)
  • 42%
    Hornets win a close one
    (43 votes)
  • 14%
    Heat win a close one
    (15 votes)
  • 33%
    Heat win easy
    (34 votes)
102 votes total Vote Now