Miami had not lost a first round playoff game in the last four seasons. Charlotte had not won a playoff game in 14 years. That is until now, as the Charlotte Hornets have won three straight games to take a commanding 3-2 series lead going back to Charlotte.
How did the Miami Heat go so quickly from up two games to facing elimination in a road game in a series when they had home court advantage? To answer this question, one needs only to look at Charlotte’s bench, and their hair style, to see the difference.
Charlotte’s Jeremy Lin has been playing spectacularly as of late, averaging 16.3 points, 4.7 assists, 3.3 rebounds, and 1.0 steals per game over the Hornets’ last three games, and it’s no coincidence that those have all been wins. His shooting percentage has increased from 36% to 47% in this latter part of the series, all coming in 31 minutes per game off the bench. Pair that up with Spencer Hawes, who is +24 in that same span in just 13 minutes per game.
The key to their powers? Their man buns, of course.
To describe Jeremy Lin’s play as incendiary would be an understatement, and the more this group for the Hornets plays together, the better they get. When the Hornets needed to win back to back games at home to avoid an early road elimination game, Lin stepped up to the plate.
Lin is running the half court offense beautifully, scoring with ease in pressure situations and involving his teammates in ways that play to their strengths. Remember Courtney Lee’s game-winning three-pointer in the pivotal game 5? It was off an assist from Lin.
Lin can also push the tempo in transition for Charlotte. Instead of pulling up for an easy mid-range jumper, Lin is able to wiggle past three defenders and lay it in on the fast break.
He can get his teammates involved in transition, too.
Spencer Hawes has been doing his part as a reserve on the defensive end, such as this monster block in game 5.
Despite having the Miami Heat pinned facing an elimination game at Charlotte, the Hornets may have a tough task closing out the series. After an MRI following game 5, it became apparent that Hawes was going to have to sit out at least the rest of this series with an MCL sprain in his right knee.
Thankfully, if the Hornets advance to the next round, then Hawes will be re-evaluated and could return within a week to continue to give valuable depth to a younger Hornets team.
One thing is for certain: missed calls from the referees are not the reason the Hornets are winning this series. However, only time will tell if the magic of the man bun can continue against Miami and beyond.
Follow the author on Twitter for more about sports: @jeauxypatton
All statistics courtesy Basketball-Reference.com. Featured image courtesy NBA on ESPN.