Miami Heat vs. Charlotte Hornets Playoff Preview: Player vs. Player Breakdown

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3. Joe Johnson vs. Nicolas Batum

Joe Johnson vs. Nicolas Batum

Johnson and Batum will each be making their postseason debut for their respective team. Eager to prove they can make the impact they were brought in to make, the two will be active and playing a lot. Although they are matched up against each other, Johnson and Batum play very different roles with the forwards’ careers gauged in opposite directions.

Batum, 27, is having a stellar year with the Hornets, after playing the first seven seasons of his career with the Portland Trail Blazers. The French native has averaged career-highs in points (14.9) and assists (6.1) in addition to putting up 6.1 boards a game. Batum, the series’ best all-around player, has notched two triple-doubles on the season and has really looked like he’s entering the prime of his career.

Johnson, on the other hand, is far removed from his best days. The 34-year-old is putting up a decent 13.4 points on 51-percent field-goal shooting and 41-percent three-point shooting. Johnson wasn’t brought in to Miami to carry the Heat through the postseason. Johnson, who sort of dictates his flow of the game, will be utilized for spurts of the game. When the game is slowed down and the Heat are forced to operate solely in the half-court game, Johnson’s impact will be invaluable. The 15-year wing also gives the Heat another premier closer next to Wade.

Even though Johnson has saved his best for the playoffs, Batum’s range of impact is greater. Largely due to the fact that Batum is a strong two-way player, hustling on both sides of the floor at all times, the small forward offers Charlotte something consistent the whole game.

Advantage: Charlotte

Next: Power Forward

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Born and raised in South Florida, Justin has always been a passionate Miami Heat fan. An avid supporter from the time Miami got its first championship in 2006 to having a league-worst 15-67 record in 2008 to the whole LeBron James era until now, Justin has seen and stuck through it all. His all-around analysis and heart for the game has made him a premier NBA writer. He writes for a variety of sites but his commitment to the Heat is always top priority.