NBA Playoffs: Miami Heat Impose Will on Charlotte Bobcats With Al Jefferson Hobbled
In the first game of the series between the Miami Heat and Charlotte Bobcats, the Heat were able to impose their will on a Bobcats team with very little playoff experience. The Bobcats battled, but in the end the Heat were able to defeat them 99-88. The biggest problem for the Bobcats was the injury suffered by starting center Al Jefferson.
Jefferson started the game off strong, going 4-4 from the field for eight points as the Heat had no answer. The Bobcats had a 21-12 lead in the process, but then Jefferson suffered an injury to his left foot. It was diagnosed as a strained left plantar fascia. Jefferson was able to return to the court, but he was not the same player as the injury visibly hampered him.
Jefferson finished the game with a respectable 18 points and 10 rebounds, but he did not have the same impact after injuring his foot. He shot 5-13 the remainder of the game, being hesitant to go into the paint, creating more difficult shots for himself. Attempts he was making during the first 10 minutes were sparse throughout the remainder of the game.
Without their go-to scorer, the Bobcats were unable to hang with the reigning two-time defending champion Heat. The Bobcats only managed to score 67 points the last 38+ minutes of the game, missing the inside presence that Jefferson offers.
Kemba Walker and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist tried to keep the Bobcats in the game to start the third quarter, fueling a 10-0 Bobcats run combined but it was not enough without their most consistent weapon. The Heat battled back to finish the quarter on a 23-13 run of their own, and continued the strong play into the fourth quarter.
Without Jefferson manning the middle to the best of his ability, Chris Anderson was able to have a major impact on the game. In 22 minutes Anderson was extremely active, scoring eight points and grabbing eight rebounds. His defense was able to disrupt the injured Jefferson as well.
The Heat were also able to take advantage from the free throw line, scoring easy points while the already offensively challenged Bobcats struggled to score. In the afternoon, the Heat attempted 26 free throws compared to 12 for the Bobcats. LeBron James attempted 10 by himself.
Winning the series was already a real long shot for the Bobcats, but the ability to at least challenge the Heat was there because of Jefferson. With him hobbled, the chances the Bobcats have to win the series, let alone compete now, is miniscule.