The Heat will play their first round opponent, the Charlotte Bobcats, Sunday at 3:30 p.m. in Miami. Even though the Heat swept the season series, the Bobcats can give the Heat some trouble. The presence of Al Jefferson in the post will be a tough assignment for whomever is guarding Jefferson. The Heat struggle when opposing teams have a dominate post presence, so it’ll be interesting to see how the Heat game plan for Jefferson.
Another player that may cause the Heat some trouble is Kemba Walker. This will be Walker’s playoff debut, but with his explosiveness he gives the Bobcats a clear advantage at the point guard position. Mario Chalmers and Norris Cole will have their hands full trying to contain Walker. With Walker and Jefferson, the Bobcats won’t be a pushover for the Heat.
The Heat have some concerns heading into the playoffs as well. For instance, the health of Dwyane Wade and Greg Oden will be a key factor in this series. But Charlotte will still have an uphill battle in winning this series.
As far as I’m concerned Miami still has the best player in the world, LeBron James. The last time the Heat and Bobcats met in the regular season, James exploded for 61 points. James may not explode for 61 points again, but I expect him to average around 30 points per game in this series. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist is a nice young player, but he can’t guard James one on one. Even if the Bobcats send a double team James way, he will just find one of his shooters spotted up for a three. So as long as James is playing in this series, don’t expect an upset by the Bobcats.
The Bobcats are 0-15 against the Heat during the Big Three era, which causes concern for the Bobcats heading into their series with the Heat. However, the Bobcats have been one of the hottest teams in the league after the All-Star break going 20-9. The Bobcats also went 16-6 in their last 22 games, the best in the Eastern Conference. With all that being said, the Heat are still huge favorites to win this series.
Ultimately, what the series comes down to is keeping Jefferson off the glass. He’s one of the best rebounders in the NBA and the Heat rank dead last in rebounds per game. But even if Jefferson has a great series, the Heat have too many weapons for the Bobcats to deal with. So I see the Heat winning this series in five games.
Series Prediction: Heat 4-1