The Charlotte Hornets have it all to do at the moment. They trail the Miami Heat 2-0 in the first round of their Eastern Conference playoff series and take to the court for game three on Saturday night at the Time Warner Cable Arena.
Nicolas Batum looks set to miss the remainder of the series, at least, with his injured ankle. That's a major blow for head coach Steve Clifford, who had been reaping the benefits of a career season from the Frenchmen in points (14.9) and assists (5.8).
Clifford will obviously have to do some reshuffling with Jeremy Lamb and Troy Daniels the most likely candidates to fill the void at the small forward spot.
For all the challenges that the Hornets head honcho might face right now, Clifford doesn't buy into the notion he is being out-coached by Erik Spoelstra during this series. Instead, the 54-year-old believes his players are losing their personal battles.
"The majority of the problems in game one were basic principles vs. coverages," Clifford said. "Like tonight, it was the same thing. It's one-on-one penetration, allowing the ball middle. For instance, 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 into the paint against anybody. So the nights when those other guys make shots, you gotta still...otherwise you [give up] both."
With the Hornets hopes hanging in the balance, the media - as they usually tend to do - have been suggesting the ways in which Clifford can turn around their fortunes.
As a 16-year veteran in the NBA - starting out as a scout for the Knicks back in 2000 - Clifford, quite fairly, thinks he knows a thing or two about the game of basketball and certainly more than the speculative media.
"Not to be disrespectful, but you guys, you watch these games, you just come up like something's got to change...So, this knee-jerk thing about something's going to change...everybody's asking me for two days, 'What about starting Al so your offense is better?' Our offense was 1.07 points per possession. You guys are looking at 91 points. You're wrong. Sorry."
Ouch. The stats don't lie, to be fair.
The Heat have emerged as one of the hottest sides in the east since the All-Star break and the fact that they've beaten the Hornets by a combined 44 points off a breath-taking 57.8 percent shooting from the floor isn't something that has alluded Clifford.
The Heat are genuine contenders to make their way to the NBA Finals at this point and whatever Clifford comes up with to combat the Florida-based franchise will have to be pretty damn good.