The Charlotte Hornets had a breakthrough season, but they didn't look like a real playoff contender in a 123-91 shellacking in Game 1 against the Miami Heat. Meanwhile Miami had a quietly dominating season, going 48-34 and finishing third in the Eastern Conference -- despite plentiful injury time for its stars. Yet there was very little buzz about the Heat -- the storyline in Miami since LeBron James left is that the Heat just aren't elite anymore. Don't tell that to the Hornets, who managed a total of 11 assists in Game 1. But the Heat will be happy to sneak up on anyone who underestimates them.
The Heat have championship pedigree and one of the best starting fives in the NBA. With the hugely athletic game-changing Hassan Whiteside patrolling the paint, Miami has four first-rate scorers on the floor at tip-off: Joe Johnson, Luol Deng, Goran Dragic and Dwyane Wade. And that's without All-Star Chris Bosh, whose sad absence due to his battle with a dangerous blood condition leaves the Heat without one of its stars, but also gives the Heat huge inspiration. The Heat scoring can come from anywhere. Against Charlotte, the Heat shot better than 57% from the field and recorded 27 assists. Deng had 31 points and Whiteside added 21 with 11 boards.
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AP Video. Dwyane Wade on Chris Bosh, and Bosh's words to the Heat. pic.twitter.com/rcQRXn1nMo
— Tim Reynolds (@ByTimReynolds) April 15, 2016