CHARLOTTE BOBCATS (43-40)
at MIAMI HEAT (55-28)
NBA Playoffs - Eastern Conference First Round
Game 2 - Miami leads series 1-0
Tip-off: Wednesday, 7:05 p.m. ET
Line: Miami -10, Total: 186
The double-digit underdog Bobcats look to even up their first-round series with the Heat in Wednesday's Game 2 in South Beach.
Charlotte hung in Sunday's series opener for the first half and led 34-28 midway through the second quarter, but after that it was all Miami, which ended the game on a 71-54 run to win 99-88 as a 10.5-point home favorite. The Heat have now defeated the Bobcats in 17 straight meetings (11-5-1 ATS) between these teams, with the past 11 coming by an average of 15.9 PPG. Over the past three seasons, Miami is 9-3 ATS overall, including 5-2 ATS when hosting in this series. C Al Jefferson (foot) has missed practice in the two off-days in between games, but will play for Charlotte in Game 2. The Bobcats have responded to losses well this season, going 26-12-1 ATS (68%) after an SU defeat, and are also up against a team that is a dismal 9-22 ATS (29%) in home games after a cover as a double-digit favorite since 1996. But the Heat are a strong 32-17 ATS (65%) after failing to cover three of their previous four games ATS over the past two seasons, and they know how important it is to keep their home-court advantage with a win on Wednesday, so Charlotte should not expect any type of letdown from this experienced group.
The Bobcats played a solid first half of basketball on Sunday, but they ultimately couldn’t get over the injury to C Al Jefferson (21.8 PPG, 10.8 RPG) that left him hobbling for the rest of the game. Jefferson had 18 points and 10 rebounds in the loss, but his plantar fasciitis was acting up and had him struggling to play defense and run up the court. Kemba Walker (17.7 PPG, 6.1 APG, 4.2 RPG) had 20 points and six assists in the game, but will need to play a little smarter in Game 2 if Charlotte is going to even up the series. Walker had six turnovers, and taking care of the ball against Miami is a must. One player who made plays when the Bobcats needed him was SG Gary Neal (10.5 PPG). Neal is a guy with tons of playoff experience from his time with San Antonio, and he came off the bench to give Charlotte 17 points (7-of-16 FG) and three rebounds in 28 minutes. They will need his shooting throughout the series to avoid being swept. PF Josh McRoberts (8.5 PPG, 4.8 RPG, 4.3 APG) played a nice Game 1 offensively with 15 points (6-of-9 FG, 3-of-5 threes), seven rebounds and four assists. If he is knocking down his shots and helping to win the rebounding battle (44-38) and points in paint (38-34) like in Game 1, the Bobcats will be very competitive in these games.
The Heat looked sluggish in the first half of Game 1, but were absolutely dominant in the second half. SF LeBron James (27.1 PPG, 6.9 RPG, 6.4 APG) finished with 27 points and nine rebounds, and was too much physically for the Bobcats forwards. James should continue to dominate this series while opening up the floor for his teammates to succeed as well, but he needs to be a better distributor after recording just one assist and three turnovers on Sunday. SG Dwyane Wade (19.0 PPG, 4.7 APG, 4.5 RPG) looked like his old self, finishing with 23 points (10-of-16 FG) and five assists. He was putting on a clinic from inside the three-point line and Charlotte had no answer. One player who really stepped it up for the Heat was reserve SF James Jones (4.9 PPG). Jones wasn’t in the rotation for the entire season, but he is making the most of his playing time now. In 14 minutes of action, Jones finished with 12 points (4-of-6 FG, 2-of-3 threes) and three rebounds. Another Miami player that had a huge game off the bench was PF Chris Andersen (6.6 PPG, 5.3 PPG), who scored eight points with 10 rebounds as part of a game-high +28 rating in his 22 minutes. PF Chris Bosh (16.2 PPG, 6.6 RPG) had 13 points (4-of-13 FG) and four rebounds in 34 minutes in Game 1. Bosh, however, was rather inefficient and will need to be more aggressive going forward. Miami has no chance of completing its three-peat if Bosh is not playing like the All-Star he is.