Pump Up Music: Phoenix -- "Napoleon Says"
The Big Picture: The Hawks are a better team than the Bobcats. In retrospect, though the game was within the Cats' reach until the last moment, it's no great blow to lose to Atlanta. The Heat, however, have been a major disappointment this season, to me, at least, and the Bobcats should be able to take them down, even on the road and the day after an overtime game.
Dwyane Wade is his usual amazing self, Michael Beasley is pretty solid, Jermaine O'Neal has been a pleasant surprise, and Udonis Haslem is the good soldier, the kind of guy a lot of teams would love to have coming off the bench. Unfortunately for them, that's about it. Their point guard situation has been a disaster, and their bench has completely failed to show up. It's reminiscent of those crappy Lakers teams after Shaq left, when Kobe Bryant was disgusted with his teammates (more than he is now, the cynic would say). They're going to be dangerous in any playoff series because Wade and one other guy can play 45 minutes and take over, but there's no way they're making it to the Finals, like I thought they might when I wrote, before the season, that they were the best value bet on the Vegas boards.
Key to Victory: Wade plays taller than he is, so Stephen Jackson's usual advantage is partly nullified. Also, Wade gets to the rim so effectively, it will test the core of the Bobcats' defensive strategy, to use elite shot blockers behind guys who may not be especially shifty, but who are disciplined about getting to the right place and executing rotations well.
I'd instruct Jax to back Wade down a few times at the start of the game and see how the Heat react, because if they double, that opens up the lane for cutters, and if they don't, that forces Wade to defend in the way least comfortable for him.
Detail That May Interest .08% of You: Haslem has an amazing back tattoo.