The Miami Heat let slip a 14-point lead Monday in Charlotte but still escaped with a two-point win. Can the Heat win a drama-free rematch on Wednesday at Kaseya Center? Here are three keys for the Heat.
1. Run the Hornets off the 3-point line
The Heat led by 12 to begin the fourth quarter but that lead quickly evaporated after a hot shooting performance by the Hornets. A big reason behind the Hornets’ comeback was their 11 3-point attempts in the fourth quarter. They had five makes and it could have been six – and a win – if Terry Rozier’s 3 at the buzzer had gone in.
The Hornets take the fifth-fewest 3-point attempts in the league per game (31.2) but are ninth in the NBA in shooting percentage (37.4). They got 41 3-pointers up on Monday and made them at a 41.5% clip. Miami can’t give Charlotte those chances, especially if Rozier (34 points on 8 for 13 from distance) continues his hot shooting.
2. Get Jimmy Butler going
The Heat will again be without Bam Adebayo (hip), Tyler Herro (ankle) and Haywood Highsmith (lower back), so they need their best player to step up. Butler had 23 points, eight rebounds and four assists in 35 minutes in Charlotte on Monday but faded in the fourth quarter, when he went just 1 for 3 in his final 6:51.
The easiest way to a dominate Heat win is for Butler to play like a star. Since Butler scored 30-plus in consecutive games (Nov. 30-Dec. 2), he has tallied 19, 16 and 23 points in his last three games. Fatigue could be a factor, but if he can uncork another 30-point performance it would go a long way to Miami earning a convincing win.
3. Get to the paint
The Hornets allow the fifth-most points in the paint in the league. Even without Adebayo, the Heat have the personnel to dominate at the rim. A big game from Butler would be a start, but can Kyle Lowry (1 for 6 for three points Monday) and Orlando Robinson (seven points) be more productive? Robinson, in particular, could have a chance to dominate with offensive rebounds and second-chance points against a poor-rebounding Hornets.