Miami (2-1) at Charlotte (1-2)
When: Monday, April 25th 2016
Where: Time Warner Cable Arena, Charlotte, NC
Time: 7:05 ET | TV: NBA TV
The Charlotte Hornets look to keep the defensive pressure on when they host the Miami Heat for Game 4 of their first round playoff series. The Heat dominated the first two games in Miami scoring 123-91 and 115-103 victories. Charlotte switched to a bigger lineup in Game 3 and it paid off in a 96-80 victory for the Hornets. Charlotte held the Heat to 34.2% from the field and the victory snapped a 14-year drought between playoff wins for Charlotte franchises, though the team was focusing on the future instead of the past. “This isn’t about winning one playoff game, it’s about winning a playoff series,” Hornets coach Steve Clifford told reporters. “This gives us a chance.” Charlotte lost starting guard Nicolas Batum to an ankle injury in Game 2 but instead of inserting another guard into the lineup for Game 3 went big with 7-foot center Frank Kaminsky. The rookie only attempted one field goal in a combined 37 minutes in the first two games but finished with 15 points in 35 minutes in Game 3. Marvin Williams scored 12 points and pulled down 14 rebounds in Game 3 after totaling two points on 1-of-17 shooting in the first two games.
The Heat will need to make an adjustment after Charlotte went to a bigger lineup and pushed its way to the win up front. Miami beat the Hornets in the first two games by putting Luol Deng at power forward but were on the receiving end of some physical play in Game 3. Hassan Whiteside left Saturday’s game in the fourth quarter with a quad bruise before sitting out practice on Sunday and is considered questionable for Game 4. Whiteside is averaging 17 points, 14 rebounds and three blocks in the series and they’ll need him as healthy as possible. Miami got nothing out of their bench in Game 3 with Justice Winslow leading the reserves with just four points on 1-of-7 shooting. Josh Richardson, who scored 15 in Game 2, was held to two points in 29 minutes of action. Dwayne Wade was 19-of-38 in the first two games, but just 7-of-20 in Game 3 and had only one assist after collecting 15 in the previous two.
I think Charlotte gets it done again tonight. I really like the home team in this series. Look for Kaminsky to have another big game and for Charlotte to send this series back to Miami tied.
Pick: Hornets -3