The Eastern Conference First Round’s opener between the Miami Heat and the Charlotte Bobcats had a little bit of everything. A close battle for a long part of the game, a great outing by an NBA fan favorite, an impressive playoff debut by one of the game’s best young talents, and a big milestone to top it all off. A continuation of what’s been an entertaining start to the NBA Playoffs.
Charlotte got off to a very good start in this game, and had an early lead that grew to 21-12, thanks in part to 8 points on 4 of 4 shooting from star center Al Jefferson. “We were flat to start, I think our guys were just rattled,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said after the game. Unfortunately for Charlotte, Al Jefferson left the game midway in the first quarter because of a strained plantar fascia and would not return until the 2nd quarter. This led to Miami finishing the first quarter on a 9-2 run to cut the score to 23-19 and, because of Al being limited with that injury, let Miami finish the second quarter on a 21-8 run and gave themselves a 49-42 halftime lead. Al Jefferson would finish the game with 18 points (9-17 shooting) and 10 rebounds.
Charlotte though, just like the 1st quarter, started the third quarter very well. Thanks to a buzzer beating three pointer to end the first half and another three to start the third quarter by third year point guard “Cardiac” Kemba Walker, the Cats scored the first 8 points of the quarter and took a 50-49 lead on the defending champs. After a hard fought quarter, both teams scored 23 points and Miami lead 72-65 heading into the 4th. Kemba Walker ended the game with 20 points and 6 assists, a very impressive first playoff game for a young player that has a very bright future ahead of him. Kemba after the game said “We did some really good things today. We just have to keep executing throughout the game. We cant get rattled.”
The game was decided in the fourth quarter. The two-time defending champion Miami Heat were just too much for the young Bobcats, as the lead got as high as 20 points. Miami would end up winning the game 99-88 and take a 1-0 series lead. The big question concerning Miami heading into the postseason was how would Dwayne Wade play after missing close to 30 games in the regular season. Wade would answer with authority. His scoring down in the post was phenomenal, and his jump shot was locked in. He even stepped back and made a big three late in the game, and finished with 23 points on 10-16 shooting. Other notable stats include LeBron James with 27 points, Miami sharpshooter James Jones with 12 points with 4 thee pointers, and Charlotte’s Josh McRoberts with 15 points (3-5 three point shooting).
Through all the excitement, a major milestone was set in the game. Heat forward LeBron James, 27 points (4-8 threes) 9 rebounds, passed Larry Bird for 8th on the all time playoff scoring list with 3,898 points in his139th playoff game. It took Larry Bird 25 more games to get to 3,897 points. Lebron will have to score 560 more points if he plans to pass Laker great Jerry West for 7th, who scored 4,457 points in just 153 playoff games. A good chance that won’t be happening in this year’s playoffs.
After so much fun in Game 1, and a big question mark about Al Jefferson’s injury, this series is bound to be a fun one to watch, Game 2 will be in Miami this Wednesday.
- Justin Hodges is a Staff Writer for ProSportsExtra.comĀ