I think the entire basketball world thought that the Miami Heat would come out and make their first game against the Charlotte Bobcats a statement after the Indiana Pacers dropped a playoff dud in their opener. But instead they came out looking like it was just another regular season game.
Minus Chris Andersen, they all displayed the lack of energy, urgency and aggression that they showed for most of the year’s 82 games. It was as if the Heat were the team with the lack of postseason experience.
The offense was stale. There was no ball movement and their defense was being eaten alive by the Bobcats’ continuity. Then Al Jefferson went down. Which may not be big to the casual fan, but those in the know remember that Big Al averaged 25.3 points and 15 rebounds — including a 38 and 19 outing — against the Heat during the 2013-14 campaign. But once the plantar fascia flared up in his foot, things were pretty much over.
It’s a shame to say that Miami didn’t really show hope until then, but they didn’t.
Once Jefferson started limping, his lack of mobility allowed Miami to ramp up their defense and swarm the ball. And in turn they were able to get into the passing lanes, turn the Bobcats over and get into what they do best — transition basketball. Yet, certain parts of the game were still disheartening.
Now I know that they won by 11 points and they may have just been anxious like coach Erik Spoelstra suggested postgame, but James screaming “not one, not two, not three…” set expectations at an all-time high.