Heat to take 2-0 series lead over Hornets?

Heat to take 2-0 series lead over Hornets?

Dwayne Wade didn’t play a starring role in Miami’s Game 1 win over Charlotte. Instead, members of an ever-growing ensemble delighted in administering a record-breaking beatdown.

The Heat received superstar-type efforts from Luol Deng (31 points) and Hassan Whiteside (21 and 11 rebounds) on Sunday. Tonight, Erik Spoelstra’s crew aims to craft a worthy follow-up to that 121-93 rout. The two Southeast Division rivals will continue their opening-round postseason matchup at 7 p.m. ET, with oddsmakers feeling South Beach’s finest.

According to online sports book BetDSI, Miami is a 4.5-point favorite to grab a 2-0 series lead. The Hornets’ flameout over the weekend renders them +170 underdogs. Meanwhile, this evening’s over/under figure sits at 198.5 points.

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The host squad a blistering pace on Sunday, racking up 41 points in the first quarter alone. Deng and Whiteside drove the attack, while Wade chipped in 16 as a complementary presence. Altogether, the Heat posted a franchise playoff record for points and shot 57.6 percent. They canned 9 of 18 3-pointers, including Deng’s four-pack.

It would be highly unusual to see Steve Clifford’s club repeat the same sort of dismal defense. Offensively, Charlotte also needs a third scorer to step up behind Kemba Walker and Nicolas Batum. Those two combined for 43 points in Game 1, but the duo ultimately proved no match for Miami’s across-the-board contributions.

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Miami has won seven in a row overall at American Airlines Arena and 13 of 15 since the All-Star break. The Hornets simply lack the interior depth to consistently compete with Whiteside and company underneath. Having said that, there’s too much perimeter talent on the visiting roster to produce a second straight clinker. The Heat will capture their 11th consecutive first-round decision, but we’re predicting a tight one.

WEDNESDAY NBA FREE PICK: HORNETS +4.5

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