NBA Playoffs Eastern Conference First Round: #6 Charlotte Hornets vs #3 Miami Heat

2016 NBA Playoffs
Eastern Conference Quarterfinals
#6 Charlotte Hornets vs #3 Miami Heat
Best of Seven Series Format: 2-2-1-1-1
Odds to win Series Courtesy of 5Dimes Sportsbooks: Heat -165 / Hornets +145

Game #1 – Sunday, April 17, 2016, 5:30 pm Eastern, TV: TNT
American Airlines Arena – Miami, Florida
Opening Line: Miami -4 1/2
Current Line: Miami -4 1/2
Opening Total: 202 1/2
Current Total: 199 1/2
Opening Money Line: Heat -185 / Hornets +165
Current Money Line: Heat -200 / Hornets +170

The Heat take on the Hornets in the Eastern Conference First round.
The Heat take on the Hornets in the Eastern Conference First round.

The Miami Heat, Atlanta Hawks and Charlotte Hornets all finished with identical 48-24 records in the Southeast Division. The Boston Celtics also finished with the same record, so it took all sorts of tie-breakers to decide the first round playoff match-ups. Miami won the tie-breaker for the division title and for the #3 seed in the Eastern Conference. Charlotte fell to the #6 seed. Atlanta is the #4 seed and Boston is the #5 seed. The winner between the Heat and Hornets will face either the #2 Toronto Raptors or the #7 Indiana Pacers in the conference semifinals.

Charlotte is coached by Steve Clifford. The Hornets won the last two games of the regular season including at home Wednesday night against the Orlando Magic 117-103. The Hornets formerly known as the Bobcats have never won a playoff game. They were swept in the first round in 2010 and 2014. Charlotte is 42-39-1 ATS and the total is 40-40-2 this season.

Miami is coached by Eric Spoelstra. Miami could have clinched the division title outright with a win Wednesday night at Boston. However, the Heat blew a 26 point lead and lost 98-88. Miami still won the tie-breaker when Atlanta lost at the Washington Wizards the same night. Miami returns to the playoffs after missing last year. It was only the second time since 2004 that the Heat missed the playoffs. Miami is 43-38-1 ATS and the total is 34-47-1 this season.

Miami and Charlotte split the season series two games apiece. Each won at home and on the road. Miami won at home 104-94 October 30 and in Charlotte 98-95 February 5. Charlotte won at home 99-81 December 9 and in Miami 109-106 March 17. The Heat swept the then Bobcats in 2014 in the first round.

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Charlotte is outscoring teams 103-101 this season. The Hornets are #11 or better in both categories. Charlotte is shooting 43.9% from the field and 36.2% from three point range. The Hornets are #8 in three point shooting. Charlotte makes 79% of their free throws and are #5 in the league. Opponents are shooting 44.4% from the field and 34.9% from three point range. Charlotte averages 43.9 rebounds per game and opponents average 44.7 per game. The Hornets average 21.7 assists, 11.9 turnovers, 7.3 steals and 5.3 blocks per game.

Guard Kemba Walker averages 20.9 points, 4.4 rebounds, 5.2 assists and 1.6 steals per game. Guard Nicholas Batum averages 14.9 points, 6.1 rebounds and 5.8 assists per game. He is probable with an ankle injury. Forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist is out for the season with a shoulder injury and played in only seven games this season. He averaged 12.7 points and 6.4 rebounds a game. Center Al Jefferson averages 12 points, 6.4 rebounds and 1.5 assists. Guard Jeremy Lin averages 11.7 points, 3.2 rebounds and 3 assists per game. Marvin Williams averages 11.7 points, 6.4 rebounds and 1.4 assists per game. Courtney Lee, Jeremy Lamb, Cody Zeller and Frank Kaminsky will also get minutes in the rotation.

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Miami is outscoring teams 100-98 this season. The Heat are #23 in scoring but #5 in points allowed. Miami is shooting 47% from the field and 33.6% from three point range. Miami is #4 in field goal percentage. The Heat make 74.4% of their free throws. Opponents are shooting 44.2% from the field and 34.7% from three point range. Miami averages 44.1 rebounds per game and opponents average 41.3 per game. Miami is #6 in rebounds allowed. The Heat average 20.8 assists, 13.2 turnovers, 6.7 steals and 6.5 blocks per game.

Forward Chris Bosh is out for the season with blood clots. He averaged 19.1 points, 7.4 rebounds and 2.4 assists per game. Dwyane Wade averages 19 points, 4.1 rebounds, 4.6 assists and 1.1 steals per game. Hassan Whiteside averages 14.2 points and 11.8 rebounds per game. Goran Dragic averages 14.1 points, 3.8 rebounds and 5.8 assists per game. Joe Johnson averages 13.4 points, 3.6 rebounds and 2.8 blocks per game. Luol Deng averages 12.3 assists, 6 rebounds and 1.9 assists per game. Gerald Green and Justise Winslow will also get time in the rotation. Udonis Haslem is probable with a foot injury. Tyler Johnson is out for the season with a shoulder injury.

Charlotte is 10-4 ATS after a straight up win of 10 points or more, 3-7 on three days rest, 2-5 in Sunday games, after a cover, and against Southeast teams, 1-4 after a straight up win, 1-5 after scoring 100 points or more, and 1-6 in first round playoff games. The road team is 7-3-1 ATS in this series recently. The underdog is 5-1-1 ATS in this series recently. The Hornets are 3-1-1 ATS in Miami recently.

Miami is 6-0 ATS at home, 5-0 against teams with losing road records, 5-1 in first round games, 4-1 after a straight up loss, 9-3 against Southeast teams, 19-7 against Eastern Conference teams, and 35-16-2 in Sunday games. The last 8 games in Miami in this series have gone over the total.

Many think Miami could be the top challenger to Cleveland in the East, even more than Toronto. However, they first must get past a young but very talented Hornets’ team. The loss of Bosh will hurt, but I think Miami wins the series in six games. The Heat win a close low scoring game one though.

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