Cleat Geeks

Heat Burn Hornets, Force Game 7

kembaWalkerThe Hornets blew a golden opportunity to advance to the conference semi-finals Friday night. A win on their home floor would have sent the #3 seed Heat home for the season. Kemba Walker came to play in Game 6, dropping a game high 37 points, but Charlotte failed to get contributions from almost everyone else on the team Friday. Marvin Williams, who was coming off a 17 point, 8 rebound performance in Game 5, scored 0 points in 37 minutes in Game 6. Jeremy Lin was 1-8 from the field and had a plus/minus of -17 in 24 minutes. The Heat dominated Charlotte on the glass,46-31. Veteran Al Jefferson was the only member of the Hornets other than Walker to produce a decent outing, putting up 18 points and 9 boards.

Dwyane-Wade2Miami was once again led by Dwyane Wade, who won the game for his squad with a variety of moves under duress, to finish off the Hornets tonight and knot the series at 3 apiece. D-Wade, normally not a gunner from deep, had not hit a shot from downtown in a game since December. He was 2-2 Friday, including a dagger over the outstretched arm of Courtney Lee that put the Heat up 95-90 with less than a minute to go in the 4th.

D-Wade’s Game 6 performance was reminiscent of the title run of 2006. He was spectacular. Wade received from Luol Deng what Kemba Walker couldn’t find from one of his teammates: a second option in crunch time. Deng dropped 21 points on over 50% shooting from the field.

Kemba Walker scored 12 straight down the stretch, but it proved to be not enough to get over the hump. He made a beautiful move along the baseline with 2 minutes remaining, putting Goran Dragic on skates and burning the Heat interior for a reverse layup. The dazzling move cut the Heat lead to 90-88, but Charlotte wouldn’t get closer than 2 the rest of the way.

There is a lesson to be learned here. Not only for the Hornets, but for any young team in an elimination game. One of the hardest things to do in the NBA, particularly for a young squad, is to put a team away. Specifically a team like Miami with championship acumen, who have been through playoff runs where they have won the 16 games required to hoist the Larry O’Brien trophy. They will not go down to a team like the Hornets unless Charlotte can put together 48 minutes of near perfect ball.dwyane-wade-jeremy-lin-nba-charlotte-hornets-miami-heat-850x560

Charlotte couldn’t do that tonight. They do have another chance Sunday afternoon in Miami, where they have produced mixed performances. Games 1 & 2 saw Charlotte be throttled in every way imaginable. Game 5 brought on a different result, with Charlotte gutting out a gritty win down the stretch with staunch defense.

I have a feeling that the Heat will be too much for Charlotte in Game 7. Too much experience. Too many battles. Too much D-Wade. Charlotte will in all likelihood be left licking their wounds and kicking themselves until the start of next season.


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