The Heat typically roll through the Bobcats but they might have to work a little bit harder this time around when they open a first round playoff series against them. The second-seeded Heat are 15-0 against the Bobcats since LeBron James joined the team, including a four-game sweep this season capped by James scoring a career-high 61 points on March 3. The Bobcats finished strong with a 20-9 mark after the All-Star break and they have won eight of their last nine games.
The Heat didn’t play well down the stretch, losing their last three games and six of their final eight. Part of that was due to resting players because they expect to still be playing in June for the fourth straight season. Nobody is forecasting the Bobcats winning the series but they could make things a bit interesting if their supporting cast steps up to help Al Jefferson. The 43 victories were the second-most in franchise history for the Bobcats, substantially more than the combined total of 28 over the previous two campaigns.
Al Jefferson is the main reason why the Bobcats are in the playoffs for the first time since 2010, as he averaged 21.8 points and 10.8 rebounds while posting 42 double-doubles. Jefferson’s play rose significantly after he recovered from early-season ankle woes and he scored 20 or more points in 37 of the final 45 regular season games. The Heat don’t have the interior players to slow him, (he had season marks of 25.3 points and 15.3 rebounds against the Heat) and they will try to frustrate Kemba Walker (17.7 points, 6.1 assists). Gerald Henderson, Gary Neal and Chris Douglas-Roberts will need to have some big outings to keep the Bobcats competitive. Keep in mind that the Bobcats were 25-6 in the regular season when scoring 100 or more points.
LeBron James averaged 37.8 points and shot 62.9 percent from the field in the four wins over the Bobcats as part of a standout campaign in which he averaged 27.1 points, 6.9 rebounds and 6.4 assists. Much more important in this series is seeing how close Dwyane Wade can come to approaching his best level. Wade’s knees are always an issue and he missed nine games due to a hamstring injury before playing in the Heat’s final three contests. Wade (19.0 points) hasn’t played more than 30 minutes in a game since March 26 and he missed 28 games during the regular season. James has scored 30 or more points 61 times in the playoffs and Wade has reached that mark 32 times.
According to the oddsmakers at America’s Bookie, the Heat are 10-point favorites and the total is set at 186. Here you can check the daily NBA Basketball Betting Lines at America’s Bookie.
Charlotte Bobcats vs. Miami Heat
Eastern Conference First Round – Game 1
3:30 PM ET, April 20
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