The Charlotte Bobcats are leaving South Beach with no wins, but in the two games against the defending NBA champions, they are playing basketball that head coach Steve Clifford can take pride in. Entering Saturday’s contest down 0-2, the Bobcats are making their 2014 playoff debut at Time Warner Cable Arena. With a hobbled Al Jefferson, suffering from plantar fasciitis, the Bobcats are looking for a similar effort to those given in both games so far.
Game 1 ended in a 99-88 victory for LeBron James & Company. Despite losing by double digits, Jefferson was able to lead his team with a steady attack from inside and out (finished with 18 points). Before injuring his left foot, he began the game hitting his first four shot attempts, but was never able to gain back his rhythm. Kemba Walker picked up the scoring slack for the Bobcats, as he ended the game with 20 points, six assists, and five rebounds. Walker also added some awfully good highlights, including a 3-pointer right before the half, and a devastating crossover on James Jones.
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist showed his abilities defensively, covering LeBron James for most of the game, but his scoring was limited, finishing with only four points. Contributions from Josh McRoberts (15 points) and Gary Neal (17 points) aided in the Bobcats attempt to keep the game close, but the 20 turnovers they committed solidified their fate. Most of them were due to bad spacing and sloppy ball-handling by the team. Even with so many factors working against their effort, the team utilized their shooting, and ability to get out in the open court to get easy baskets.
Fresh off of a 101-97 loss, the Bobcats found some things to utilize in order to secure their first playoff victory in franchise history. One of the biggest positives from the game was the playoff career-high of 22 points by Kidd-Gilchrist. His activity on defense and mid-range scoring kept Charlotte in the game. Gerald Henderson finished the game with 15 points, and found success getting in the paint, and finishing around the rim. Of course, Kemba Walker continued to display his knack for scoring big moments, drilling a contested 3 that pulled the team within one point in the final seconds of the game. It was eventually a mental error by Gary Neal that led to a crucial turnover, after the guard looked to attempt an early 3-pointer to tie the game, but passed to Chris Douglas-Roberts near the sideline. Douglas-Roberts was tied up, and eventually stripped by Dwyane Wade, ending the game.
If the Bobcats are going to continue to compete against the Heat, each of the players that stepped up in Game two must give a similar effort. Miami is definitely more talented than the Bobcats, but the team’s effort on defense, and toughness in their leaders (Jefferson and Walker) will give them a chance to get some wins at home. Saturday night should definitely have a raucous crowd, and all the energy should translate right to the Bobcats.