The Miami Heat knew there could be no letdowns to start their NBA playoffs after suffering a horrific meltdown in the last game of the regular season.
Consider Game 1 against the Charlotte Hornets as ‘Mission Accomplished.’
The Heat demolished the Hornets at American Airlines Arena 123-91 setting team playoff records for most points scored along with most made field goals (49). Forward Luol Deng set an individual record for most points scored in a Miami playoff debut with 31 scored making 11 of 13 field goals including four of six from beyond the arc. Here is the good, the bad, & the highlight of the night as Miami takes a 1-0 series lead.
The biggest questions coming into the playoffs for Miami was whether the team could continue to play a faster pace while staying engaged throughout the game. Both were answered tonight as the Heat didn’t let up on the Hornets on both ends of the floor. Guard Goran Dragic, who made his first career playoff start, helped guide the offense with 10 assists despite only scoring nine points. Miami also blunted Charlotte’s perimeter attack having them make just six of their 17 attempts from the three-point line.
The Hornets also had no answer for Heat center Hassan Whiteside who had his first career playoff double-double with 21 points and 11 rebounds along with three blocks. Miami as a team dominated on the glass as the team grabbed 42 rebounds, 14 of them offensive, compared to Charlotte’s 28.
Foul trouble was the main issue tonight as forward Joe Johnson got two early in the game forcing Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra to bring rookie forward Justise Winslow in earlier than usual. Winslow himself got three quick fouls that allowed the Hornets to get into the penalty.
There were also instances where the Hornets found easy lanes to the basket, something that could cost the Heat should Charlotte get hot from downtown.
Highlight Of The Night:
While the overall performances by Deng and Whiteside tonight were great tonight the best play of the game was made by the rookie Winslow.
Early in the second quarter Winslow caught a pass from Dragic in transition and went to the basket scoring after euro-stepping his way past a Hornets defender. Afterwards Winslow pointed to franchise guard Dwyane Wade whose own euro-step has been an integral part of his offensive arsenal throughout his career.
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) April 17, 2016
The defender whom Winslow got past by? Fellow rookie forward Frank Kaminsky whom the Hornets picked right before Winslow at the 2015 NBA draft.
Game 2 of the series will be on Wednesday at 7:00 EST back at the AAA.