Apr 20, 2014, 6:58 PM EDT
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.
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