The Bobcats were never afraid and never backed down. They played the Heat blow for blow, including a run early in the second half that tied the game and made it look like they would give the Heat all they could handle.
Then, the floodgates opened. Al Jefferson’s injury and ineffectiveness became too much for Charlotte to overcome. And LeBron James was LeBron James.
Good job, good effort Charlotte, but not enough in a 99-88 Miami win.
Al Jefferson reportedly sprained his plantar fascia in his left foot in the second quarter, and reported after the game that he might have torn something in his foot. That is not good for the Bobcats. Jefferson was the big matchup advantage for Charlotte and he scored 18 points on 9-for-17 shooting. This after making his first five shots.
Miami really struggled to control Charlotte on the interior. That led to Kemba Walker getting some open looks and getting into a good rhythm, and it led to a bottleneck of the Heat’s offense. There were no fast break opportunities. Jefferson’s injury changed that.
There came Dwyane Wade and LeBron James to the rescue and to mercilessly batter the Bobcats defense with their crippling efficiency. James finished with 27 points and nine rebounds. He easily pulled up for back-breaking 3-pointers and cut to the basket against a slow Bobcats defense missing its best player at full speed. Wade finished with 23 points on 10-for-16 shooting.
It was far from the prettiest game, but Miami did what it needed to do to get a Game One win. And Charlotte will have to reconfigure itself and hope for the best before Game Two.