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Bobcats-Heat Game 2 Preview: Footwork

By Royce Young | NBA writer

Al Jefferson suffered an injury Sunday against Miami. (USATSI)
Al Jefferson will play in Game 2, but how will he look? (USATSI)

More Playoffs: Schedule | Threat Matrix | Previews: East | West | Picks

Previewing Game 2 of the Heat-Bobcats first-round series.

1. Where We Are: We're right where we expected to be. The Heat lead the series 1-0, and did it in the kind of fashion that was predictable. The Bobcats stayed close for three quarters, but talent and scheme eventually wore out the young Bobcats as Miami cruised in for a safe landing.

Al Jefferson got hurt, dealing with a plantar fasciitis issue and while that was critical, the Heat illustrated how they're clearly better. Dwyane Wade showed was a good bit of rest does for him, scoring 23 on 10-16 shooting plus five assists. LeBron James was standardly good, scoring 27 plus nine rebounds. And as a team, the Heat hit 11 of 23 from 3.

The Bobcats are a defensive team, but they just can't slow down Miami, especially without Jefferson so that they can control tempo and style. The Bobcats played the Heat moderately close in Game 1, but they'll have to play to perfection to get a split.

2. The Big Number: 12. That's the number of free throws the Bobcats took in Game 1. Not at all good enough. The Heat tossed up 26 attempts, and were a plus-10 at the free throw line in makes. The Bobcats aren't good enough offensively to engineer half court offense against the Heat consistently. They have to attack and get to the line.

They're not a bad foul-drawing team (tied ninth in the league, 25.0 a game), but couldn't find the whistle at all in Game 1. Part of that was due to Jefferson's aggressiveness being zapped with his injury, but also the Bobcats started settled for jumpers far too much. Their mindset for Game 2 needs to be to attack.

3. Key Adjustment: The best adjustment the Bobcats can make is to try and take some of the pressure off Jefferson and clear the floor for Walker or Gerald Henderson to contribute. Walker had 20 in Game 1, but on 6 of 15 shooting. Henderson shot just 3 of 9. The Bobcats can't win without solid supporting production, even if Jefferson was 100 percent.

The Heat are stout defensively, but they can be broken down off the dribble. It increases the risk for turnovers and poor shot selection, and the Bobcats aren't really a pick-and-roll focused team, but more of it could give the Heat some matchup issues. Getting Jefferson easy looks, by forcing some bad switches, would be helpful.

4. The Big Story: The big takeaway from Game 1 was Al Jefferson's foot injury. The game changed dramatically when he became obviously limited and if the Bobcats are to have any chance whether it's tonight or at any other point in the series, he has to be effective. The size of Big Al is really the only clear advantage the Bobcasts possess. If he's hobbled, they'll have to refocus their attack around Kemba Walker and dribble penetration, which isn't a great plan agains the Heat.

5. The Facts: 7:00 p.m. ET. Al Jefferson is dealing with a foot injury, but with play through it. Mario Chalmers is a game-time decision because of a bruised shin.

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