The two-time, reigning, defending NBA champion Miami Heat are set to defend their throne and attempt to three peat, something only three other franchises in NBA history have done. The first hurdle to leap over for the second seeded Heat is the Charlotte Bobcats. No, that’s not a typo, you read that correctly. The Bobcats improved drastically this season and earned the seven seed.
If history is any indicator, this series won’t last long for the Bobcats. In the Big Three era, the Heat are an astounding 15-0 against Charlotte. Miami will look to make that 19-0 in the coming week, LeBron had a 61 point outing against the Cats earlier this season. The Bobcats are not going to be picked by many people, if any at all, to win this series or even a game. It will be awfully hard for the Bobcats to win in either of the first two games, as they are in Miami. The Heat don’t lose much on their home floor.
Miami is notorious for forcing turnovers and getting out in transition. If they are able to do that to Charlotte, this series will be made quick work. However, the Bobcats don’t turn the ball over much, in large part due to the team feeding Al Jefferson in the post. The Charlotte Bobcats are likely the only people who think they have a realistic shot at upsetting the champs, but that’s all a young team needs. It’s a classic Davis versus Goliath matchup.
The Heat are led by the Big Three of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh. James will likely get second place in the MVP voting behind Kevin Durant, but that doesn’t mean he wasn’t spectacular as usual this season. James averaged 27.1 points per game, 6.4 assists per game, and 6.9 rebounds per game, while shooting 57 percent from the floor. Wade, who only played in 54 games due to injuries, averaged 19 points per game, 4.7 assists per game, and 4.5 rebounds per game. Bosh had a stellar season averaging 16.2 points per game and grabbing 6.6 rebounds per contest. He shot 34 percent from beyond the arc, which will be key against Jefferson. Those are the only three players who average double figures in scoring, but that doesn’t mean the team doesn’t get other contributions. Mario Chalmers and Ray Allen average a combined 19 points per game and Michael Beasley averages 7.9 points per game in a bounce-back season for him.
Jefferson led the Bobcats in points (21.8) and rebounds (10.8). His sidekick this season was point guard Kemba Walker, who had a nice season himself. Walker averaged 17.7 points, 6.1 assists (led team) and 4.2 rebounds per game. Gerald Henderson averages 14 points per game, while Gary Neal – who was acquired before the trade deadline – averages 11.2 points per game. The Bobcats score 96.9 points per game, but will likely have to average even more than that as the Heat score 102.2 points per game.
The Heat have struggled over the past month or so and the Bobcats are just what this team needs. The Bobcats on the other hand, are coming to spoil championship aspirations for Miami. Will the Heat cruise past the Bobcats in pursuit of a third consecutive title or will the Bobcats somehow manage to dethrone the champs?