Miami Heat vs. Charlotte Hornets Pick & Prediction JANUARY 14th 2024

The Miami Heat are relying on Bam Adebayo more than ever.

Over his past four games, Adebayo is averaging 24.0 points, 11.0 rebounds and 4.3 assists. That’s up slightly from his season averages of 22.0 points, 10.4 boards and 4.1 assists.

“We’re running a lot of our actions through (Adebayo),” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said.

On Sunday night, Adebayo will try to keep his momentum as Miami plays host to the struggling Charlotte Hornets.

The Hornets have lost four straight games. Going back further, they have dropped 15 of their past 16 games.

Charlotte got blown out 135-99 by the San Antonio Spurs on Friday. It was an embarrassing loss considering that the Spurs entered that game with a 6-30 record, and, even with the win, they are still the worst team in the Western Conference.

The good news for the Hornets is that star point guard LaMelo Ball returned from a 20-game absence due to an ankle injury. Ball had 28 points, five assists and five steals in his first game since Nov. 26.

“It was cool to get back out there,” Ball said.

But Charlotte’s Brandon Miller, the second overall pick in the 2023 NBA Draft, left Friday’s game due to a bruised back.

The Hornets are already without Gordon Hayward (strained left calf); P.J. Washington (sprained right foot); and Mark Williams (bruised back). All three of those players have made double-figure starts this season.

Miami has its own injuries, including two of their top three scorers: Jimmy Butler (toe) and Tyler Herro (shoulder). Kyle Lowry (hand) also sat out Miami’s 99-96 win over the visiting Orlando Magic on Friday.

Butler and Herro combined to average 43.3 points per game.

That’s where Adebayo comes in, as he made the go-ahead free-throw-line jumper with 18 seconds left on Friday night as Miami defeated Orlando in an all-Florida battle.

Adebayo finished with 21 points and 11 rebounds for his fourth straight double-double.

In addition to Adebayo, players such as Duncan Robinson and Jaime Jaquez Jr. have filled the voids left by Butler, Herro and Lowry. Against Orlando, for example, Robinson scored a team-high 23 points, and Jaquez added 19 points.

Miami got good news on Friday as Caleb Martin, who had missed seven straight games, returned and scored 11 points. The forward gives the team energy and athleticism with his high-flying attacks at the rim.

Robinson and Jaquez will continue to be keys for Miami. Robinson, in his sixth year in the league, is averaging a career-high 14.2 points while shooting 41.4 percent on 3-pointers and 86.2 percent on free throws. He is much improved this season in terms of faking shots and driving to the hole.

Jaquez is older than most rookies as he turns 23 next month. With his age comes a polished game with a variety of moves. He is averaging 14.0 points, 3.9 rebounds and 2.7 assists.

For the Hornets, Ball leads the team in scoring (24.9) and assists (8.0). However, he has only played 16 games due to injury.

Terry Rozier is averaging 23.9 points and 6.8 assists in 25 games (all starts). Miles Bridges is averaging 20.4 points and 7.1 rebounds in 25 games (23 starts).

Miller, the highly-touted rookie, leads the Hornets in games (32) and starts (26). He is fifth in scoring (13.9).

However, it will be tough for the Hornets’ offense if Miller, Hayward (14.5 average), Washington (13.0) and Williams (12.7) are all out. The Hornets have rarely had Miller, Rozier, Ball, Bridges and Hayward available at the same time.

–Field Level Media

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