This isn’t last year. The Miami Heat are fighting and scraping through every game to get their wins, which means big nights from LeBron James and this time Chris Bosh to beat the Charlotte Bobcats 101-97, taking a 2-0 lead in the series, helped out by Al Jefferson playing with an injury that’s really limiting him.
And even though Jefferson is getting worse in terms of health with every minute he plays, the Bobcats are hanging in there. Playing like Michael Kidd-Gilchrist are stepping up, finishing with 22 points, and Gerlad Henderson did a good job shooting the ball as well, finishing with 15. Al Jefferson finished with 18 points, Kemba Walker with 16. However, the two combined to shoot 14-of-41 from the field.
James finished with 32 points on 11-of-17 from the field. He did go 1-of-5 from beyond the arc, but when shooting from a closer distance he was pretty much perfect, as the Heat scored 22 points off of 15 turnovers by the Bobcats. Chris Bosh had his best game in a while with 20 points, including four 3-pointers. Jefferson having no mobility whatsoever helped him get plenty of open looks and unlike previous games, he made the most of them.
James stuck to driving to the basket, scoring 12 points that way. The Bobcats don’t have anyone who can keep up with him, including Kidd-Gilchrist. They also don’t have much of a deterrent in the paint to keep him out. Jefferson isn’t much of a rim protector anyway, but in his situation its even worse. Josh McRoberts tried showing he doesn’t care about all that nonsense and elbowed James in the throat while LeBron was trying to score. Somehow, it was only a foul and not called something more; not even reviewed.
The Heat have now won 18 consecutive games against the Bobcats, and although they blew two big leads during the game, including a 14-point advantage that almost disappeared late in the game, they should feel confident. It is as if the Bobcats don’t have what it takes to make the Heat look bad. Jefferson not himself, and probably not going to get any better injury-wise during the series is another reason the Heat should be optimistic about their visits to Charlotte.
Dwyane Wade scored 15 points, almost half of them from the line. His biggest play came with the Heat up by three points, 10 seconds to go. Wade did a great job on Gary Neal, not giving him room to take a shot, and Neal handed it over to Chris Douglas-Roberts. Wade came in for the double team and simply stripped the ball away from him, resulting in a foul that sent the Heat to the line and finish the game.
The Bobcats aren’t the 2013 Bucks. They’re making it a tough series for the Heat, but it’s just not going to be enough like this. Not when Kemba Walker plays like this is his old UConn team in terms of how he sees the floor. Not with Jefferson hobbling and limited by injury, and not while the Heat’s defense gets a stop whenever they want to. Not being able to handle LeBron James is another problem, but that’s something most of the league suffers from as well.