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GAME #2: Bobcats @ Heat 3-on-3 Preview

Who: Miami Heat vs Charlotte Bobcats — Game 2: 1st Round of NBA Eastern Conference Playoffs

What: NBA Basketball – Heat Home Game

When: 7:00 PM ET

Where: Live at American Airlines Arena, Miami, FL

The Matchup: (Post-season ratings)

Record Offensive
Miami 1-0 109.5 (5) 96.4 (3) 90.9 (13)
Charlotte 0-1 96.4 (14) 109.5 (12) 90.9 (13)

Previous Meetings:
Game #1: 99-88 Heat

Miami: Mario Chalmers (Questionable)
Charlotte: Al Jefferson (Questionable)

Starting Lineups

Heat Bobcats
PG Mario Chalmers Kemba Walker
SG Dwyane Wade Gerald Henderson
SF Lebron James Michael Kidd-Gilchrist
PF Udonis Haslem Josh McRoberts
C Chris Bosh Al Jefferson
6th Man Ray Allen Gary Neal

3-on-3 TrueHoop NetworkGreg Pietras, Michael Kaskey-Blomain, and Spencer Percy go all-in on a 3-on-3 preview to get you ready for game two in Miami tonight.

1- What will look the most different from the Bobcats in game two if Jefferson is as limited as we all fear?

Percy: Probably the volume of post-touches for Charlotte, which is scary because that is where their offense operates from. I have a theory that Clifford could elect to sit Jefferson, concede tonight’s game, and hope he’s healthy enough to help the Bobcats take two at home starting Saturday night. This theory is only valid if the extra three days of rest will actually benefit Jefferson’s overall health.

Jefferson quotes in shoot-around this morning:

“I can’t say there won’t be some kind of pain. But I feel like every hour it’s getting better and better.”

“It’s responding really well. I should be good for tonight.”

Clifford quote on Jefferson health from this morning:

“If he can be effective, we’ll play him. If not, we’ll get him out.”

If the Bobcats are indeed without Jefferson tonight, or at least with a limited Big Al, then Charlotte will have to run it’s offense through their guards – Kemba Walker and Gary Neal. I would guess that the Bobcats try to play small – a PnR oriented offense with a dribble-drive, kick concept would be the simple/quick solution. This would mean many more minutes for Anthony Tolliver, CDR, and maybe even Jannero Pargo.

Pietras: If Jefferson is really struggling out there, I think we’ll see more of the McRoberts/Zeller frontcourt. That might not be a bad idea, anyway — Zeller is athletic enough to chase Chris Bosh out to the perimeter, and the Heat don’t really have a bruising big man that can take advantage of his size. We might also see more shooting on the floor, with Gary Neal and especially Anthony Tolliver getting more time. Kemba will also probably take more than 15 shots.

Kaskey-Blomain: If Jefferson is limited as feared, the Bobcats entire offensive attack will be different. Jefferson presents the sole mismatch in the series working in Charlotte’s favor with his size and strength in the post. If the offense can’t be run through big Al, it will become much more perimeter-oriented, which plays to the Heat’s favor. Jefferson scored 8 early points on Sunday before he got hurt, as the Bobcats fed him early and often. The Heat don’t have a direct answer for him defensively, but they have plenty of options for Charlotte’s perimeter players. If Jefferson is limited, the Bobcats’ entire offensive approach will be altered, unfortunately, in the Heat’s favor.

2- What’s the most important Miami trait for Charlotte to takeaway in order to have a chance to even this series tonight?

Percy: Miami free-throw attempts. I know it’s difficult to keep James & Wade away from the rim off the dribble, but it has to be done if Charlotte wants a chance. The Heat knocked down 11 threes on Sunday because of the fact that they were able to collapse the defense off of dribble-penetration. It didn’t really happen until the second half, as Charlotte did a nice job of walling off the lane in the first half, but it pours when Miami finally does start getting the ball to the rim – it poured on the Bobcats in the form of an 18-4 4th quarter run on Sunday.

Pietras:  Free throws or three-point shooting, take your pick. Miami shot 11-of-23 from three and 18-of-26 at the line in Game 1, and getting to the line really helped float their offense when they were otherwise struggling. As far as how Charlotte can limit their free throws, coach Clifford is suggesting they foul less. Seems airtight.

Kaskey-Blomain: If Charlotte can limit Miami’s fast-break points then they should give themselves an opportunity to stay in the game. Miami loves to get out and run, especially off of defensive rebounds, and that sparks a whole lot of their offense. Miami only had 6 fast break points in the first game, and Charlotte was able to keep it close. If they can again limit Miami’s production off the break and force them to execute in the half-court, they will give themselves a shot.

3- Does Miami go up 2-0, or can the Bobcats steal one in South Beach and even this thing at 1-1? Why will the game ultimately swing in either direction?

Percy: I have a hard time believing that Charlotte will be very successful without an effective Al Jefferson tonight. Ultimately, it’s going to take an above-average offensive effort from the Bobcats and a perfect defensive effort. Charlotte has to limit turnovers in order to take away transition opportunities for Miami and rebound the defensive glass with a purpose. Guarding without fouling is very difficult to do with the Heat because of the way they will attack the rim, but it’s vital for the Bobcats chances – always be cognizant of helping your teammate defensively one-pass-away to protect the gaps + rotations have to be perfect to limit open three-point attempts for Miami.

I think Charlotte will play inspired and end up hanging tough in this game, but I’m being a realist and accepting we’re likely going to be without an effective Big Al. 102-90 Miami.

Pietras: I’d love to be optimistic, but nope. I’m a little more hopeful that they can steal one back in Charlotte, after Al Jefferson gets more rest, but Miami does a good job of ironing out the kinks. Another strong effort and I’ll be happy.

Kaskey-Blomain: This would be a great game for the Bobcats to steal in Miami, but I don’t see it happening. The Heat didn’t look into it early on in the first game, but they snapped into it by the second half. As the Heat continue to push further into playoff mode they will be increasingly difficult to beat. A limited Al Jefferson will also hurt Charlotte, as big performances from Big Al will be necessary Charlotte wants to pull an upset. In the end, I see Miami just being too much for Charlotte, especially offensively, in game 2, and taking a 2-0 lead in the series.