Heat Experience Advantage Demonstrated
The Heat opened the 2016 Playoffs with a 32-point win over the Hornets in Game 1 of their first-round series, scoring a franchise-playoff-record 123 points. Miami’s clear advantage entering the series was experience, and Dwyane Wade, Luol Deng and Joe Johnson all have plenty of experience in the postseason.
Deng looked comfortable with a season-high 31 points on 11-of-13 shooting in Game 1 to lead a 57.6 percent shooting effort from the Heat. His 34.1 points-per-36 average in Game 1 more than doubled his regular season average of 13.7 points-per-36. Many of his makes were contested threes.
Charlotte was outrebounded 49-37 and outscored in the paint 56-36 but does not plan to move center Al Jefferson into the starting lineup. Charlotte rookie C Frank Kaminsky did not attempt a field goal in 18 minutes on Sunday.
The Heat led the Hornets with higher points-per-possession values for ball screens, drives, isolations, post ups and catch & shoot play types. Isolations were the Heat’s most efficient play type. They averaged 1.63 points-per-possession, when they had at least one isolation play in that possession. Hassan Whiteside, who finished 3rd in Defensive Player of the Year voting, was playing in his first postseason game and had no trouble getting the better of Charlotte’s frontcourt with 21 points on 9-of-11 shooting, 11 rebounds and three blocks in 26 minutes. Miami G Goran Dragic was the only starter not to score in double figures with nine points on Sunday but handed out 10 assists.
The Hornets’ most efficient play type was catch & shoot shots. They averaged 1.38 points-per-possession with catch & shoot plays. Most of their shots were 3-pointers from the left side of the court. Kemba Walker was one of three players to score in double figures with 19 points on 6-of-13 shooting in the first game but lamented the team’s execution. Walker, Courtney Lee and Nicolas Batum each managed only one assist in the loss.
The Hornets’ Nicolas Batum had an above-average game, in terms of scoring, for Game 1. With 24 points in a little over 40 minutes of playtime, he averaged 21.5 points-per-36, which was higher than his regular season average of 15.4 points-per-36. Batum was able to knock down three 3-pointers when defended by Justise Winslow, which accounted for 9 of the 14 total points Batum was able to score against Winslow.
In Game 1, both the Heat and the Hornets made a higher percentage of contested 3-pointers compared to uncontested 3-pointers. That is unlike both teams’ behavior during the regular season, or any other NBA team for that matter.
Heat Experience Will Be Tough To Overcome
The Heat should be rolling with Dragic, Wade, Joe Johnson, Bosh and Whiteside. That would be a team that could challenge Cleveland. Charlotte has had success with this fast, athletic lineup but they need Al Jeff to control the tempo.