Two games down, both Heat victories, and the series now shifts over to Charlotte. Here’s a look at what we’ve seen so far:
Are the Bobcats Good?
Simply put, yes. The Bobcats hadn’t had one game nationally televised all season and now they’ve kept pace with the two-time defending champs in consecutive games. They’ve proven to a wider audience that they have the talent, depth, grit and determination that got them in the playoffs in the first place. There’s a very realistic chance that if Al Jefferson hadn’t aggravated the plantar fascia in his foot, the series could be tied or Miami could be in the same hole as Chicago (down 0-2 and squandering away the supposed home court advantage). The combination of Jefferson’s exception footwork and low-post game, Kemba Walker’s explosive athleticism and scoring, and the production from some quality role players bodes well for the future Hornets franchise.
Are the Heat Bad?
Of course not. But, as LeBron James admitted after Game 2, they haven’t played their best basketball, nor have they been consistent for 48 minutes. This series has been a microcosm of Miami’s entire season – capable of playing brilliantly in stretches, lazy and disinterested in others. The Heat has gotten unexpected contributions from James Jones in Game 1 and Chris Bosh’s long-range shooting was the difference in Game 2; they’ve relied on a surprise performance to be the difference. Heading back to Charlotte, that seems like a risky move, especially if Miami expects to advance to the NBA Finals. I’ve expected the Bobcats to take Game 3 all along and the Heat are doing their best to comply.
So…About That McRoberts Foul
Yeah, that’s a tough one. The man known as “McBob” had this to say after the game, according to the Bleacher Report’s Ethan Skolnick:
Josh McRoberts on foul: “I think it looked worse than what it was…. It wasn’t intentional.”
— Ethan J. Skolnick (@EthanJSkolnick) April 24, 2014
We’ve got to give him the benefit of the doubt and assume it wasn’t dirty or meant to cause harm. But it does fit the definition of a flagrant foul, which should have been called immediately and maybe led to McRoberts’ ejection; and that could be the bigger story. This postseason has shown that the current officiating system needs tweaking and that throwing your hands up in the air after the game and saying, “Whoops! My bad!” isn’t good enough.
Still, McRoberts is likely facing a suspension for Game 3.
Where Does the Series Go From Here?
I still think it goes 5 games. The Heat keep hitting the snooze button on the playoffs; maybe facing the energy of a Bobcats home crowd will be the wake-up call they need to be consistently great. As for Charlotte, the Jefferson injury crushes their slim hopes of advancing. But they’ve capitalized on Miami’s glaring weaknesses and shown that they’re better than expected. It’s too bad there are no moral victories in sports because the Bobcats are certainly deserving of some consolation for their performance this far in the 2014 NBA Playoffs.