Miami Heat at Charlotte Hornets Game 3 preview

There are some coaches - and apparently, even more media members - who would look at Charlotte's first two playoff games against Miami and deem them abject disasters.

Steve Clifford isn't one of them.

Despite stressing that wholesale changes in strategy aren't necessary after two lopsided losses, the Hornets coach has to make one key personnel adjustment Saturday as Charlotte heads home looking to avoid an 0-3 deficit against the Heat.

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The Hornets laid an egg in their playoff opener, letting Miami shoot 57.6 percent in a 123-91 rout, and when it seemed like things couldn't get worse on the defense end, the Heat shot 57.9 percent in a 115-103 win in Game 2.

The two most accurate performances by Charlotte opponents all season happening at the worst possible time were only part of the problem.

The Hornets scored 30.4 percent of their points from 3-pointers during the regular season - third most in the NBA - before shooting a combined 7 of 33 from long distance. A team in the middle of the pack in assist percentage (58.6) suddenly had just 20 on 66 field goals in two games.

And yet, Clifford isn't ready to start over as the Hornets try to avoid a 13th straight playoff loss.

"You have to look at how they're scoring," he said. "They're not running sets that we're having trouble with coverages on. It's one-on-one stuff. It's as simple as this: If Dwyane Wade's got room, he's getting in the paint against anybody."

The Heat's 38 drives to the basket have led to 54 points, a 1.42 per-drive rate that dwarfs Charlotte's 1.13 from the regular season. And as off as the Hornets have been shooting the ball, they've put up 106.7 points per 100 possessions - a tick above their offensive rating through 82 games.

Clifford wasn't done lecturing the media on would-be adjustments.

"This knee-jerk thing about 'Something's got to change'? Everybody's been asking me for two days, 'What about starting Al (Jefferson) so your offense is better?

"I know my team," Clifford said. "I watch my team closer than anybody. I'm going to look and figure out what the problems are. If we need to make an adjustment, we'll make it. ... Sometimes, the other team just makes shots. That's what's really going on."

Clifford might be counting on a little course correction from Luol Deng, who put up 47 points and shot 17 of 24 in Miami, and expecting the Heat's 51.9 percent shooting on uncontested jumpers - 13.3 above their regular-season mark - to come back to earth.

Wade seems to know the regression is coming.

"On the road we have to win defensively," he told the NBA's official website. "We can't expect to take this same offensive game on the road. If that ever happens, praise God. Thank you. But we can't expect it at all. We have to win these games with defense, and our defense has to be better."

It should be simply due to the fact Nicolas Batum won't be out there. Charlotte's versatile forward came into the playoffs nursing a left ankle injury, left Game 2 in the fourth quarter and won't play in Game 3.

The Hornets had a 113.9 offensive rating in the 138 minutes Batum played against Miami in the regular season, and a 78.2 rating in the 54 he was on the bench. Charlotte said he'll be re-evaluated before Game 4, but one report suggested he's done for the series. Jeremy Lamb, who has yet to play, figures to get minutes Saturday.

Even if Batum can return, the Hornets need more from Marvin Williams. The pending free agent was one of Charlotte's keys during the regular season, turning into a 40.2 percent 3-point shooter, but he's 1 for 17 from the field and has scored two points in the series.

"This team's counting on me," Williams said. "The last thing I can do right now is get down on myself. I know those guys aren't going to get down on me. I know the coaching staff isn't going to get down on me."