Miami Heat Defeat Charlotte Hornets in Game 7; Advance to Second Round
The Heat had the early advantage in the series, defending their home court and taking a commanding 2-0 series lead going into Charlotte.
Once the series went to North Carolina, the Hornets came out scorching the nets. Dominating the visitors by 16 points in game three, it seemed like the momentum went towards Kemba Walker and the Hornets. In game five, as the series was tied at two games a piece, the Heat were down 90-88 as Dwayne Wade went in for a driving layup. Wade believe he was fouled, but no whistle was given and the Hornets took the 3-2 series lead.
What Went Wrong for Charlotte?
The Hornets were heading into game six looking to close out the series and obtain their first playoff series win since 2002. If they were ever going to advance in the playoffs, game six would be their best chance. The fans wanted to see a victory on their home court, instead of fretting over playing a decisive game seven in Miami.
The Hornets’ front court squandered any chance of victory, though. They were out-rebounded by huge margins. The Heat had more defensive rebounds than the Hornets did as a team. That does not include the Heat also grabbing 11 offensive boards throughout the game. In critical moments of the game, the front court of Charlotte could not grab the ball and provide the team with an opportunity on offense. Instead, the Heat were able to control the game on the glass, especially in the final minutes of the game.
In the last few minutes, the most notable person for Charlotte was not a player on the basketball team, but a heckling fan. A man wearing a curious combo of a purple shirt and a green backpack started to harass Dwayne Wade every time up the court.
Wade responded by hitting two big three pointers, ending his streak of missing 22 consecutive shots behind the arc. It was the first made three pointer since December for the all-star guard. With those two big shots, the Heat were able to secure a 97-90 victory and the chance to close out the series in Miami.
Kemba Walker tried to will the Hornets to victory, scoring 37 points in game six, but it was to no avail. This was the best chance for the Hornets to come away with the series after going 1-2 in Miami during the series.
The Heat came out with a fire in their eyes. Goran Dragic blew away who ever was guarding him and the Hornets could not find easy shots. Frank Kaminsky, who struggled throughout the series, continued to blunder in this game. He was not able to find any easy buckets with Hassan Whiteside patrolling the point. He shot just 3-15 from the field.
Kemba Walker, after coming off a 37 point performance, completely failed under the pressure. He shot even worse than Kaminsky, shooting just 3-16 from the field. Without any offense from those two players, and Nicolas Batum still not 100 percent after injuring his foot, it was easy to see where this game was going early.
After the Heat controlled the first half with the score of 54-42, they went for the kill in the third quarter. Holding Charlotte to just 11 points in the third quarter, the Heat were able to secure a 30 point lead going into the final 12 minutes.
Goran Dragic was the star of this game. His time in Miami has not been as successful as people thought it would be, but he proved he can still play like a borderline all-star when it counts. Dragic scored 25 points, on an efficient 11 for 17 from the field, and was a nightmare for Kemba Walker and Jeremy Lin to guard. He also grabbed six rebounds and dished out four assists in the game seven rout.
The Charlotte Hornets had the opportunity to close out the series, but once Miami was given the opportunity, they took it with force.
The Miami Heat will be playing the winner of the Toronto Raptors vs. Indiana Pacers game seven.
(Miami Heat Defeat Charlotte Hornets in Game 7)