The Charlotte Bobcats get quite the post-Christmas present on Wednesday night: a date with the defending champion Miami Heat. Not only are the Bobcats free-falling in the midst of a disastrous 15-game losing streak, but the Heat have won five in a row, stand at 19-6, and won’t want to look past the hapless Bobcats like they did the Washington Wizards earlier this year.
Miami doesn’t have a huge matchup right away ahead of them on the schedule, so you can forget about a mental lapse and the Heat simply “looking past” Charlotte. Miami will come into Charlotte guns “a blazin” and the Bobcats will have all they can do just to keep this one competitive.
The lone bright spot is that the Bobcats get to attempt to knock off the Heat at home, while star shooting guard Dwyane Wade has been struggling with his shot. The only real chance Charlotte has here is for Kemba Walker to win the point guard battle in resounding fashion (which he certainly can and probably should), and for the Bobcats to play some of the best defense of their short 2012-12 season.
Charlotte hasn’t had a close game since blowing a late lead against the Lakers four games ago, so they’ll undoubtedly have a tough time staying in this one. However, if they’re serious about doing so, they must control the pace of this game and play disciplined defense. Ultimately, that will mean forcing LeBron James into long jumpers, and driving him away from the basket.
If they can try to make a struggle Wade or Chris Bosh beat them, they have a chance to stay in the game. However, against James, who hasn’t dipped under 20 points in a game all season, that should prove to be quite the challenge.
They’re the defending champs and on a winning streak, so we can’t be too depressed if we drop another one and tack it on for 16 straight losses. However, one other faint bright spot is that the Bobcats will certainly be up to play for this one, and in a seemingly increasingly lost season, they truly have nothing to lose.
Final verdict: Heat win, 117-105.