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Charlotte is scrappy but Heat have too much in comfortable 99-88 win

Apr 20, 2014, 6:58 PM EST

Dwyane Wade, LeBron James, Chris Bosh AP

Charlotte showed in Game 1 why they made it to the playoffs — scrappy defense, playing smart, and Al Jefferson being a beast down low.

That’s just not enough to beat the Heat.

Charlotte led in the first half, until Miami went on a 12-0 second quarter run and from there led by seven at the half. Charlotte opened the second half with an 8-0 run of their own to make it a game again. They would not go quietly into that good night.

But they would go — LeBron James (27 points on 16 shots) and Dwyane Wade (23 points on 10-to-16 shooting) hit key buckets and Miami pulled away in the fourth to win 99-88 in Game 1. Just so it’s clear, Miami is now up 1-0 in the series.

The bigger issue for Charlotte coming out of Game 1 is Al Jefferson’s foot injury. With just more than a couple minutes left in the first quarter he injured his foot moving into position to help defensively on a drive, he went straight to the bench and then the locker room. The Bobcats announced he had a strained plantar fascia, which is a stretching of the connective tissue that runs along the bottom of the foot (it is different from plantar fasciitis, save that it is the same part of the foot).

The injury is painful and you could see it in Jefferson’s game the rest of the way — he finished with 18 points and 10 rebounds but he was not the same player, he was not moving well at all. The teams are off for a couple days, we’ll see if he can go in Game 2.

Even with that the Bobcats led by 11 in the first half, until Miami went on a run and by the half they were up by 7.

Point guard Kemba Walker sparked a Charlotte run to start third — he had 8 quick points including wicked step back three. Charlotte also came out more focused on getting back on defense and taking away easy transition points (which would have been easier if they had not turned the ball over 15 times. Yet Miami’s big guns made plays and by the end of the third quarter the lead was 7 points again, just as it had been at the half.

Then the Heat opened the fourth quarter on 20-8 run, with Wade hitting step-back three of his own, and they were up 19 midway through the quarter. Miami coasted in for the win from there.

There were plenty of things to like from Heat fans. For one thing, Miami played good defense and had a focused energy for the game. They looked like a team that understood the playoffs were starting. Also, there was James Jones coming in off the bench and scoring 12 points, spacing the floor and giving Miami another three point weapon.

If you’re a Bobcats fan looking for positives, I give you Josh McRoberts.

This was the one first-round playoff game so far that really played to form. We knew from the regular season that the Bobcats would be scrappy, they would defend, they would make a few plays. They play hard.

We also knew Miami was the better squad. The Heat showed that on Monday.

  1. supremekingz - Apr 20, 2014 at 7:06 PM

    Great game. I think the Heat will win but the Bobcats can win a couple of games. Miami has no answer for Kemba Walker (unless they put Lebron on him). He should play more aggressive the next game.

    • antistratfordian - Apr 21, 2014 at 3:27 AM

      Walker only shot 40% and scored 20 points. Do they need to have an “answer” for that? He can do that every game and Miami will win each one just as easily.

  2. 1972wasalongtimeago - Apr 20, 2014 at 7:08 PM

    1

    • ProBasketballPundit - Apr 20, 2014 at 10:34 PM

      Remember when LeBron started wearing that XVI mouthpiece in 2012 as a symbol for the 16 playoff wins needed for a championship? That’s the first time I counted playoff wins for a team I liked; surprised he hasn’t worn it since.

  3. miamatt - Apr 20, 2014 at 7:10 PM

    Wade’s energetic and efficient 34 minutes was the best thing about this game for Miami.

    • leahcima1 - Apr 20, 2014 at 7:19 PM

      Agreed but it was sure fun to see James Jones dusted off, thrown in and play like he’s been a starter all year. Way to go JJ.

  4. ranfan12 - Apr 20, 2014 at 7:35 PM

    That injury is going to be some bad news for the bobcats. Things were looking somewhat positive but 35 minutes on that injury didn’t help at all.

    Kemba Walker.

  5. mackcarrington - Apr 20, 2014 at 8:06 PM

    You know you’re a hardcore basketball nut if you watch this series.
    Heat in 4.

  6. rodge1 - Apr 20, 2014 at 8:45 PM

    If Charlotte can keep these guys and add another impact player or 2 they are going to be serious contenders in a year or two.

  7. jzone954 - Apr 20, 2014 at 9:19 PM

    James jones will be this years Mike Miller.

  8. realfootballfan - Apr 20, 2014 at 9:25 PM

    Unlike The Pacers, the Heat haven’t fallen off a cliff in the second half of the season, and this series should be over in 5 games tops. I still think going to the Finals for a 4th straight year will be too much for them unless they face OKC, which is a real possibility because OKC is the nightmare matchup for the Spurs.

    • antistratfordian - Apr 21, 2014 at 3:35 AM

      I’m not so sure that the Spurs are going to be as formidable this year. The playoff journey will reveal a lot, but something about San Antonio is starting to make me wonder.

      • unxpexted1 - Apr 21, 2014 at 9:37 AM

        San Antonio is playing dallas, and the heat are playing the bobcats. That’s really the only thing to wonder about.

      • antistratfordian - Apr 21, 2014 at 3:16 PM

        And it’s only going to get harder from here for San Antonio. Miami probably won’t see a team as good as the Mavs until the Finals.

  9. jzone954 - Apr 20, 2014 at 10:08 PM

    If Wade is healthy and fresh to go for the entire playoffs watch out.

  10. ProBasketballPundit - Apr 20, 2014 at 10:36 PM

    I’m starting to be really impressed by Spoelstra’s roster tweaking. It started in 2012 when he first went with Bosh at center against Boston in the ECF; he’s been fearless with his lineup changes ever since. And I wouldn’t be surprised if he was saving a few guys for a surprise appearance in these playoffs.

    • rhetoric1 - Apr 21, 2014 at 6:40 AM

      Agree with your comment. It’s a shame he didn’t incorporate this in the 2011 finals since he rode the useless corpse of Mike Bibby until the end. Didn’t insert Chalmers into the starting lineup until game 6, I believe, and by then it was far too late.

  11. atahualpaoxford - Apr 20, 2014 at 10:46 PM

    Hope the next game ends 122 to 0 for the Bobcats…

  12. bigmeechy74 - Apr 20, 2014 at 11:12 PM

    I feel bad for charlotte that they drew the Heat. Charlotte is the only team in the playoffs with a literal 0% chance of advancing to the next round. It sucks for them they didn’t get the 8 seed instead

    • ProBasketballPundit - Apr 21, 2014 at 11:44 AM

      I feel bad as a Bobcats fan. We were 3 games back from the Wizards at 35-38 then we won 8 of our last 9 including two against the Wizards to briefly take over the 6-seed in the East. But then we dropped a turd in Boston and the Wizards blew out Miami’s backup team to take the 6 spot back. Ugh. Not sure if we stood a chance against Toronto either but like you said, it’s more than a 0% chance which is what we have now.

      • bigmeechy74 - Apr 21, 2014 at 4:49 PM

        I think they could’ve beaten toronto or at least given them a scare

  13. phluffyclouds - Apr 20, 2014 at 11:51 PM

    Hopefully Big Al will be close to 100% for game 2. Bobs would have made it a lot closer with a healthy Al Jefferson out there.

    • pantsfreezone - Apr 21, 2014 at 3:25 AM

      I like Big Al. I actually like the Bobcats team and was bummed when he went down even though I’m a Heat fan.

      Unfortunately, his type of injury doesn’t improve quickly or with rest.

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