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Miami takes stranglehold of series; Bobcats on their last breath

Miami Heat 98 Final
Recap | Box Score
85 Charlotte Bobcats
Josh McRoberts, PF Shot Chart 37 MIN | 3-9 FG | 5-6 FT | 9 REB | 2 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 13 PTS | -7

MCBob’s passing ability and vision was negated by Miami tonight. The Heat packed the paint in the second half, building a wall for either him or Kemba to find cutters or dump post-entry passes into Jefferson.

For the most part, I thought McBob attacked the rim like you have to against the Heat and was able to earn some trips to the foul line by doing so.

Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, SF Shot Chart 21 MIN | 1-6 FG | 1-4 FT | 5 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 4 TO | 3 PTS | -12

From the tip, MKG was full of energy and the Bobcats went straight to him with the first offensive possession, which they have made a habit of doing.

MKG played the entire first quarter due to the fact that Lebron never came off the floor and held him to 3-7 shooting – this earns him his grade, if nothing else. Once again, an above average effort.

MKG was bad offensively tonight, especially from the FT line, which seems to be able to get him going at times.

Al Jefferson, C Shot Chart 30 MIN | 8-13 FG | 4-5 FT | 5 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 3 BLK | 0 TO | 20 PTS | -20

Big Al was borderline inspiring in the first quarter with his 15 point (7-9 FG) performance on one leg. At times, he was able to do some of the things that we grew accustomed to seeing from a healthy Jefferson – reverse pivots + spin-cycles. Other times, it appeared as if Jefferson would have to be carried down to the other end of the floor by his teammates.

After the first quarter explosion, Big Al was completely taken out of the game by the Evil Empire — just 5 points on 1-4 from the floor for the final three quarters. Miami fronted Jefferson every time down the floor and he simply couldn’t maneuver his 50% frame to get position on the block. Miami also sagged what seemed like their entire defense into the paint. Basically, Spolestra and the Heat decided Charlotte would have to beat them from the outside.

Regardless of what the outcome of this series is, Jefferson has left it all on the floor for this team, and for that sir, I thank you.

Kemba Walker, PG Shot Chart 27 MIN | 4-7 FG | 4-5 FT | 2 REB | 5 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 13 PTS | -26

Every single PnR that involved Kemba (which was a lot) was blitz by Miami and zoned tightly behind the blitzing double team. An aggressive defensive style such as what the Heat were showing Charlotte last night would be sliced by a team that can space the floor, but the Bobcats cannot, and Miami has done a very nice job of exposing that weakness in this series.

Miami ran so hard at Kemba on PnR’s situations that he could not even find space to get off a bad shot. That’s elite defense and shows you just how impressive Miami can be on that end when they turn it up. Kemba had no counter to the Miami style and no adjustments appeared to be made in the locker room at halftime.

Gerald Henderson, SG Shot Chart 21 MIN | 2-6 FG | 2-4 FT | 2 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 6 PTS | -21

I thought the energy from Hendo out of the gates was solid last night, but he faded, and unfortunately many Bobcat fans have come to expect this from him.

Hendo did a very nice job on Wade in the first half, cutting off his driving angles and forcing him to become a distributor – which Wade did, to the tune of 5 assists in the first half.

Cody Zeller, C Shot Chart 16 MIN | 0-3 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 2 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | -2

Zeller has panicked against this Miami pressure. We have seen him mature throughout the season on-the-court, but this series has proved the point that it’s not too difficult to speed the rookie up if you want.

Gary Neal, SG Shot Chart 28 MIN | 2-8 FG | 4-4 FT | 2 REB | 3 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 9 PTS | +5

Neal is 10-32 (32%) in the series + has a 1:2 assist/turnover ratio. The trade for GN at the trade deadline hasn’t been criticized recently, and worked out for the most part in the regular season. This obviously is a bad matchup for Neal and the Bobcats – Miami has simply chased him off of the three-point line and forced Neal to be a driver/creator – it’s not his game and that’s become magnified in this series.

Chris Douglas-Roberts, SG Shot Chart 25 MIN | 6-8 FG | 3-3 FT | 3 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 17 PTS | +2

Finally I’ve gotten to a guy who had some success at attacking the interior of Miami’s defense. Most of his production came during junk time, but CDR is doing what the Bobcats must do in order to have a chance in game four – force the ball to the rim.

Steve Clifford

There should be some mild disappointment that Clifford did not try to run the offense through someone else to start the second half. Miami showed their cards in the second quarter of just how aggressively they were going to guard Kemba on PnR’s. Charlotte had some success with the Ridnour/Jefferson pick-and-pop, but when Kemba checked back in late in the second quarter there was no sign of Big Al in PnR situations with him – surprising, but Jefferson may have been hurting that much.

Clifford and the coaching staff have got to devise a way for Jefferson to catch the ball further away from the basket – Miami is not going to allow him to catch it on the low block. If not Jefferson, then I think the Bobcats need to play through the high-post – it gets the ball closer to the rim, could shrink Miami’s defense even more, and would hopefully open up the floor for the guards.

Three Things We Saw

  1. Miami’s pressure has flustered the Bobcats in the turnover category for three straight games, so it may be safe to say that Charlotte has no answer for this defensive style.

    Charlotte has 44 turnovers in this series – they’ve led to 57 Miami points.

  2. Another sign of the Heat walling off the paint: Charlotte only had 28 points-in-the-paint, opposed to 40 for Miami.
  3. Game four will be tomorrow night (Monday) at 7:00 PM ET. The end could be near for the Charlotte Bobcats. Forever.