No more illusions about a piece of cake couple of first rounds before the “real” playoffs begin. The Miami Heat beat the Charlotte Bobcats 99-88 with solid performances from LeBron James and Dwyane Wade but especially great runs sparked by the bench and James Jones to take a 1-0 lead in the series.
If Al Jefferson wouldn’t have taken a bad step at the end of the first quarter which meant he was playing injured for the rest of the game, not looking like the same player who dominated early on, it might have been a bit closer. He had 18 points and 10 rebounds, but was clearly struggling in the second half, never being able to dominate like he did during the first quarter. He still played 35 minutes, but it seemed like he was doing more harm than good at certain stages.
The Heat won with two big runs – one at the end of the half and the other coming late in the game. After chasing the Bobcats for most of the first half came a 19-2 run that came mostly from James Jones’ outside shooting. A player who has been with the Heat through the Big Three era but always at the fringe of the rotation if involved in it at all. He scored 12 points (hitting two 3’s) in 14 minutes, and he’s hoping to be involved a bit more than he was in the two championship runs.
LeBron James scored 27 points to lead the Heat, taking him to 8th on the NBA’s all-time playoff scoring list, going past Larry Bird. He actually sat on the bench as the Heat went on their second big run of the game, 18-4, midway through the fourth quarter to finally get the decisive separation from the Bobcats and claim a double digit victory. As James said after the game, having three future hall of famers on the floor in Wade, Bosh and Allen wasn’t such a bad thing to watch from the sidelines.
Wade has no minute limitations on him, or at least that is what Spoelstra said. He had a very strong game with 23 points, looking especially aggressive on his drives early in the game. He was 4-of-5 with 10 points on drives and 6-of-7 with 12 points inside the paint. Wade has something to prove early on in the playoffs. In the Heat’s disappointing finish to the season (11-14 on their final 25 games), the Heat were 3-10 when Wade was playing.
Kemba Walker had a good game with 20 points, Josh McRboerts helped out with 15 and Gary Neal heats up when he sees the Heat scoring 17 points. Miami got another bad shooting night from Bosh (13 points, 4-of-13 from the field) but a great and energetic game from Chris Andersen, giving them 8 points and 10 rebounds, while his +28 in 22 minutes was the most impressive thing. Miami have now won 16 consecutive games in the Big Three era against the Bobcats, and if Jefferson doesn’t bounce back from his injury that streak is only going to get longer.