Playoff Preview: Bobcats-Heat Game 1

What a first day, huh? The road teams should feel plenty of confidence after they won three of the four games on the opening day.

The NBA Playoffs continue at 3:30 p.m. on ABC as the Heat host the Bobcats in the 2-7 matchup of the Eastern Conference. Before each game, we will have a quick preview of the upcoming game with a matchup to watch and a stat to chew on as you watch the game.

Previously on Lost:

Yeah. That was a massacre.

The Heat swept the season series with a couple of close games mixed in. None were more emphatic as the 61-point performance LeBron James put on the Bobcats in March at Miami. Charlotte had already given up a 60-point game to Carmelo Anthony so this was not completely unprecedented.

Steve Clifford’s upbringing as a coach is to avoid double teaming players as much as possible and forcing one player to beat you on his own. That is what the Bobcats did this game and James did that. Charlotte actually kept this game relatively close. But at some point, you got to stop James.

Matchup to Watch: Al Jefferson vs. Chris Bosh

It has long been noted that the Heat’s one weakness is on the interior against a strong post presence. And Charlotte might have the best low post offensive threat in the league.

Al Jefferson is sometimes overlooked because he has so rarely been in the Playoffs and plays for the extremely nondescript Bobcats right now. Jefferson though turned in a fantastic season and is going to be a bull for Charlotte in this series. He is certainly priority No. 1 for the Heat’s defense.

Chris Bosh, not the greatest post defender, will get the first assignment on Jefferson and he will have to do something to slow Jefferson down. Like James’ big game, if Jefferson goes off, it could help boost everyone around him. Jefferson will not be scoring 60, but he is capable of big games on the glass as well as on the block.

AlJeffersonBobcats_Grizzlies022214Stat to Chew On: Big Al in Big Games

As noted, the Bobcats gave up two 60-point games this year with Carmelo Anthony dropping 62 in late January. The other was the aforementioned 61-pointer to LeBron James. But those two games overshadowed some decent performances from Al Jefferson. Jefferson came up big in both those games actually.

Jefferson scored 25 points against the Knicks with nine rebounds to boot. Against the Heat, Jefferson poured in 38 points and 19 rebounds. Those are some pretty nice performances overshadowed by the brilliance of NBA superstars.

Bloggers’ Corner:

DBWalker of Rufus on Fire: I think James might want to prove something to the rest of the league as well. Not that he has to prove anything, per se, but with all the talk about Kevin Durant winning the MVP, deservedly so, I have a feeling James is going to really want to come out strong and unload on the Bobcats. We could see a very energized King James.

Brandon Di Perno of Hot Hot HoopsThis started the small-ball revolution in the NBA and is the largest reason why Miami is able to win against teams even when being out-rebounded. This was made evident in the 2013 NBA Finals as they Heat utilized their “small lineups” in order to keep the Spurs off-guard. Small-Ball allows Miami to increase space on the court and thus become an extreme threat in transition. In a small-ball atmosphere the pace is high, it allows the Heat to score a barrage of points in little time, but it can also create issues from big men in the paint.

Philip’s Running Prediction: I like the Bobcats, I really do. They had a fantastic season. This is just the wrong matchup for them. The Heat are the Heat. LeBron is LeBron. And Dwyane Wade is Dwyane Wade. I just find it very difficult to see the Bobcats having much of a chance in this one. It would be a minor victory if they won a game. The Heat live for the Playoffs and they sweep the Bobcats as of now.

Philip Rossman-Reich

About Philip Rossman-Reich

Philip Rossman-Reich is the managing editor for Crossover Chronicles and Orlando Magic Daily. You can follow him on twitter @OMagicDaily