Mar 3, 2014; Miami, FL, USA; Miami Heat small forward LeBron James (6) is defended by Charlotte Bobcats small forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (14) in the first half at American Airlines Arena. Mandatory Credit: Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports

2014 NBA Playoffs Preview: Miami Heat vs Charlotte Bobcats

(2) Miami Heat vs Charlotte Bobcats (7)

Season Series: Miami led 4-0

Key Matchup: The last time LeBron James went up against the Bobcats, he had a pretty good game. Like 61 points worth of good. His primary defender that night was Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. How MKG responds is the matchup of the series for me. But a close second is how a rejuvenated Udonis Haslem (so effective against Roy Hibbert in two matchups) fares against low post beast “Big Al” Jefferson.

The Skinny: The Bobcats barely snuck into the playoffs. Having said that, their defense was top-notch and they did manage to be competitive throughout the season. Jefferson is simply too solid; he’s guaranteed to get his points, no matter how effective the Heat defend him. The key to the series will be how effective Charlotte’s “supporting cast” (Kemba Walker, Gerald Henderson, MKG, Chris Douglas-Roberts, Josh McRoberts, etc.) can be against Miami’s defense.

Miami will win if: They simply play their style of basketball. Tight defense, transition buckets, key shots from downtown…when Miami plays well, they’re unstoppable. If they can create turnovers while limiting their own, this will be a short series.

Charlotte will win if: Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh go down with injuries. The Heat is simply too experienced and too deep to be challenged by this Charlotte team (that lacks postseason experience and has a suspect bench). Even still, LeBron James and the rest of team would probably take the series to seven games (see 2009 Cleveland Cavaliers) before losing to the Bobcats.

Prediction: Heat in 5. I’ve seen some people predict a sweep but I think Charlotte’s energy and fanbase will translate into at least one win. The Bobcats take Game 3 in Charlotte before Miami closes out the series and moving on to the round.

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Tags: 2014 NBA Playoffs Charlotte Bobcats Miami Heat NBA

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