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

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5. Hassan Whiteside vs. Cody Zeller

Hassan Whiteside and Cody Zeller

There’s no debate that Whiteside is the better center here. Zeller isn’t bad, but Whiteside outweighs Charlotte’s starting center in points (14.3), rebounds (11.8) and blocks (3.7).

Zeller does, however, top the Heat’s big man in one area: speed. The third-year pro is the fastest center in the league, which might give Whiteside some trouble. Zeller’s ability to get to both sides of the court so quickly may drain Whiteside from the beginning of the game and really force him to earn his points. Another glaring fact that may be an issue for Whiteside is his lack of postseason experience. The 7-footer is the only player of both starting lineups to never play in the playoffs.

Apart from that, the Marshall University product should have a strong showing in his first playoff series. Earlier in the season, the league’s leading shot blocker accumulated one of his triple-doubles against the Hornets. Zeller’s advantages are just easily trumped by Whiteside’s dominant defensive skills and growing offensive array.

Advantage: Miami

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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.