The fact the Charlotte Hornets are in this position is AMAZING!
As the Carolina Panthers began their run in the playoffs on their way to the Super Bowl, the Hornets were in the midst of a 12 game stretch where they lost 10 games and were 19-23. No shot at playoffs!
But since March 1st, Charlotte is 18-6 and finished 48-34. Good enough for the 6th seed in the Eastern Conference Playoffs.
Now comes a 1st round playoff match up with the Miami Heat.
Since the NBA returned to Charlotte back in 2004, the Bobcats/Hornets have been to the playoffs 2 times. In both series, they were SWEPT! One was to Orlando and the 2nd to Miami.
This isn't the same Miami team. There is no Lebron James and Chris Bosh isn't playing either. Dwayne Wade is there and still playing at a high level.
But this isn't the same Charlotte team either.
Back in the playoff series 2 years ago against Miami, Charlotte was a great defensive team (4th in the NBA), but was offensively challenged as they were 23rd in points per game and 23rd in 3 point shooting.
The 2016 Hornets are still pretty good at playing defense as they are 9th in the league. Offensively, they are MUCH BETTER as they are 7th in the league from 3 point land and 11th in points per game.
That is why I feel this team will make some noise in the NBA playoffs.
2 years ago, teams knew they could double team Al Jefferson because no one could really shoot from the outside. If Miami does that this time, they will pay dearly.
Speaking of Big Al, he strained his plantar fascia in his foot in the 1st quarter of Game 1 of the playoff series against Miami and was pretty much a non factor. That was the season he was 3rd team All NBA. Not saying the Hornets would have won the series if he didn't get hurt, but they certainly would have been a better challenge to mighty Miami.
Big Al is healthy this time around and loving his role coming off the bench providing inside scoring with the 2nd unit while letting guys like Jeremy Lin and Jeremy Lamb fire away from 3 point land. Jefferson is averaging 12 points per game off the bench.
National media can sleep on this team if they want to, but during this series they are going to find out this team can really play.
This will also be the nations first time getting to really see this team providing the fact that Charlotte was not on national at all during the regular season. NOT ONCE! They did play on NBA TV, but not everyone can get that channel. Doesn't count!
I'm going to go out on a limb here and predict that they WILL NOT get swept this time in the playoffs. Let me even take this a step forward, not only am I picking the Hornets to get a win this series, but they will WIN the series in 6 games.
Buzz City, STAND UP AND REPRESENT!