The Miami Heat will be on a three-game road trip, beginning with a faceoff with the Charlotte Hornets at Spectrum Center on Friday. Injuries have depleted the defending Eastern Conference champions, with franchise leader Jimmy Butler among the wounded.
While Butler will be a game-time decision by the Miami Heat, it is unclear how many players will be available to play. Goran Dragic, KZ Okpala and Udonis Haslem (who hasn’t played a game this season) are all on the injured list. Their latest acquisitions via the trade deadline, Victor Oladipo and Nemanja Bjelica, may or may not be ready to play yet.
The Charlotte Hornets, too, are a bit handicapped without rookie sensation LaMelo Ball (fractured wrist), who was elevated to the starting point guard position weeks ago. Thankfully, Devonte Graham is around to pick up the slack. Despite Ball’s absence, the Hornets were able to brush off their recent three-game slide and win two straight.
Fixture - Miami Heat vs Charlotte Hornets | 2020-21 NBA Season
Date & Time - Friday, March 26th, 8:00 PM ET (Saturday, March 27th, 5:30 AM IST)
Venue - Spectrum Center, Charlotte, NC
Miami Heat Preview
The Miami Heat are on a five-game losing streak and things aren’t looking too good for them because of the number of players on their injured list. Losing Butler due to an illness in the Portland Trail Blazers game on Thursday compounded the team’s problems.
Miami Heat coach Erik Spoelstra is hoping that Oladipo and Bjelica will be available on Friday against the Charlotte Hornets, but there will be a feeling-out process for sure even if they can play. It will be a struggle but there are not many coaches who can handle this kind of adversity better than Spo. Bam Adebayo will have to step up his game, especially if Butler is still sick.
Key Player - Bam Adebayo
Speaking of Bam Adebayo, he is the key to the Miami Heat turning their fortunes around. The young and talented big man has to take the Charlotte Hornets game by the horns and show off his All-Star form from last season.
Adebayo has been consistent as a performer but perhaps he may be too consistent. His averages from his last five games are very similar to his season averages and therein lies the problem. It shows that the 6-foot-9 center has not been elevating his game at a time when the Miami Heat need him the most.
For the team to snap out of its losing streak, Adebayo has to step up his game once and for all.
Miami Heat Predicted Lineup
Point Guard - Kendrick Nunn l Shooting Guard - Gabe Vincent l Small Forward - Duncan Robinson l Power Forward - Trevor Ariza l Center - Bam Adebayo
Charlotte Hornets Preview
The Charlotte Hornets routed the Houston Rockets 122-97 on Wednesday to end their three-game road trip on a high. Terry Rozier led his squad with 25 points while Graham added 21. It was a dominant performance from the Hornets, who needed a win like this to boost their confidence for their next set of games.
They have a short two-game homestand before heading eastward for a challenging stretch of six straight games on the road. But the Hornets' focus is on Friday, where they battle the injury-plagued Miami Heat.
Charlotte Hornets coach James Borrego has Malik Monk carrying the bench after Ball became a starter, and the 6-foot-3 guard has responded with his best season so far.
Key Player - Gordon Hayward
The Charlotte Hornets acquired Gordon Hayward during the offseason to be their franchise player. He started off the season, leading the team in scoring, but he has not been the team’s top scorer as consistently as before. In fact, in his last seven games, Hayward averaged just 14.3 points, 7.1 rebounds and 5.4 assists per game.
He has not been aggressive in looking for his shots, taking just 10.7 attempts per game during the aforementioned seven outings. Whether the Charlotte Hornets can survive with the 11-year veteran playing this way still remains to be seen as they are 4-3 during this stretch of games.
If the Miami Heat’s Jimmy Butler can’t play tonight, Hayward may find it easier to find seams in the defense and he might take over the scoring load once again.
Charlotte Hornets Predicted Lineup
Point Guard - Devonte Graham l Shooting Guard - Terry Rozier l Small Forward - Gordon Hayward l Power Forward - P.J. Washington l Center - Bismack Biyombo
Miami Heat vs Charlotte Hornets Match Prediction
The recent issues that the Miami Heat are experiencing have likely been addressed by their newest recruits. Oladipo gives the team another player who can create his own shots while Bjelica can stretch the floor with his shooting.
However, with their availability uncertain along with Butler and Dragic, the Charlotte Hornets appear to be the safer bet to win the game. Aside from the fact that they have won their last two outings, the Hornets are also playing at home and are more rested compared to the Miami Heat, who played last night.