The Charlotte Hornets won in dramatic fashion on Wednesday night as they defeated the Miami Heat by 2 points in Game 5 of their first-round series. With the game played in Miami, the win satisfied Charlotte’s need to take away a game on the road in order to have a chance to beat the Heat in the first round. However, the win was not without controversy, and it was not without cost for Charlotte.
For controversy, it appeared as though Miami guard Dwyane Wade was fouled on his team’s last possession of the game. Down by 2, Wade grabbed an errant shot out of the air on the left baseline and made an aggressive move toward the basket. Cody Zeller of the Hornets left his feet to defend against Wade’s shot and appeared to make body contact with the guard as he was in the act of shooting. No foul was called, no free throws were shot, and the Heat lost by two.
For the cost to Charlotte, backup center Spencer Hawes suffered an injury and “will miss the remainder of their first-round series against the Miami Heat with a sprained medial collateral ligament in his right knee.” However, the injury is not a critical one when it comes to Charlotte’s chances. The Hornets still have their starting lineup in place, and Al Jefferson, Frank Kaminsky, and Zeller will have to eat bigger minutes going forward.
If you watched Charlotte games when they were winning a lot of them in February/March, then you know Hawes as the big guy in the business suit clapping on the bench. Basically, Steve Clifford is very accustomed to coaching without him, and the Hornets won a lot of games this season when Hawes was injured in February/March. In fact, their most impressive stretch of basketball this season came when Hawes was inactive. I’m not trying to suggest that there is cause and effect there, but this Charlotte team isn’t hurt by this injury that much.
The Hornets are still poised to wrap up their series against the Heat. Leading 3-2, Charlotte have a home game on Friday night (8 pm ET) to try and move on. A victory would put the Hornets into the second round for the first time since the 2002 playoffs. A loss and they will be looking at having to win a Game 7 on the road against the Heat.
With match point in their own building and against a franchise that has played a major roll in keeping Charlotte down over the years, Friday night is the biggest night in well over a decade for the Hornets/Bobcats. Game 6 also represents a chance for Kemba Walker to thrust himself into more important games as the talented guard has missed out on national exposure a lot of the time due to playing in Charlotte.