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Charlotte Bobcats at Miami Heat: Matchups

Poll

Poll: Miami Heat vs. Charlotte Bobcats: Which team will advance in the NBA playoffs?

How the Eastern Conference teams match up in the first round of the best-of-7 playoff series (Statistics included apply to the four games between the Bobcats and Heat this season.):

Point guard

Kemba Walker (15.5 ppg, 6 apg) vs. Mario Chalmers (8.3 ppg., 3.5 apg.)

This is a matchup the Bobcats really need to win to have a chance. Heat point guards Chalmers and Norris Cole are vulnerable to being beaten off the dribble. Miami tends to blitz pick-and-rolls, over-playing Walker to limit his drives. Edge: Bobcats

Shooting guard

Gerald Henderson (13.7 ppg., 5.3 rpg) vs. Dwyane Wade (10.5 ppg., 3.5 apg.)

Wade is obviously the more accomplished player. The question with him has been his health. He missed nine games in a row late in the season. Henderson has made just one of four 3-pointers in this matchup. He’s more a driver than a shooter. Edge: Heat

Center

Al Jefferson (25.3 ppg., 15.3 rpg.) vs. Udonis Haslem (4.5 ppg., 6.0 rpg.)

Jefferson has been great against the Heat this season, shooting 57 percent from the field. Miami is expected to guard him with Haslem, a more physical post defender than Chris Bosh. The Bobcats need to win this matchup by a wide margin. Edge: Bobcats

Power forward

Josh McRoberts (8.3 ppg., 4.3 apg.) vs. Chris Bosh (17.3 ppg., 4.5 rpg.)

Both these guys are “stretch 4s” – big men who are comfortable handling and shooting from the perimeter. Bosh beat the Bobcats in December with three late-game 3-pointers. McRoberts is better equipped than Jefferson to chase Bosh all around the court. Edge: Heat

Small forward

Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (6.8 ppg., 5.0 rpg.) vs. LeBron James (37.8 ppg., 5.5 apg.)

James’ 61-point explosion the last time he played the Bobcats will not change Charlotte’s approach to guarding him. He hit 8-of-10 3-pointers that night, an anomaly. He’s typically more dangerous as a driver and a passer than as a long-range shooter. Edge: Heat

Bench

Gary Neal is important to Charlotte in part because he’s one of the few Bobcats with considerable playoff experience (with San Antonio). Ray Allen is quite a weapon off Miami’s bench. Chris Anderson and Greg Oden are available to help guard Jefferson. Edge: Even

Coach

Steve Clifford could not have had a better debut season as an NBA head coach. He’s established the Bobcats as one of the top defensive teams in the league. Erik Spoelstra has been great at managing superstars, which is not as easy as it might sound. Edge: Heat (for playoff experience)

Intangibles

The difference in postseason experience is stunning. Spoelstra’s players have a combined 1,069 playoff games and 727 playoff starts. Clifford’s players (excluding injured center Brendan Haywood) have a combined 127 playoff games and 15 starts. Edge: Heat

Analysis

Miami doesn’t invoke the fear and awe they once did among NBA opponents, but they still look like favorites in the East to advance to the NBA Finals. The Bobcats have three starters and three other rotation players who have yet to play in the playoffs.

Prediction: Miami in 5

Rick Bonnell

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