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Miami’s practice ends Tuesday for everybody but Shane Battier. He does what he always does, what he has since he played at Duke. Over and over he sprints, catches the ball and shoots, trying to simulate game conditions on the emptying AmericanAirlines Arena court.

LeBron James led the Miami Heat this season in minutes, scoring, field goal percentage, free throws attempted and made, rebounds, assists, steals and dunks. But he also leads Miami in things that don’t show on the stat sheet.

The Charlotte Bobcats thought they had a chance to beat the Miami Heat, and by winning eight of their final nine regular-season games they earned it. To suggest they’re happy to be in the NBA playoffs, as if attaining the playoffs is all that mattered, is delusional.

The smallest man on the court Wednesday will have the biggest role. Kemba Walker, who is 6-foot-1-ish, will mean more to the Charlotte Bobcats than LeBron James will mean to the Miami Heat. LeBron has more help.

If Al Jefferson isn’t effective, the Charlotte Bobcats have no chance to beat the Miami Heat. If Jefferson ceases to be Big Al, if plantar fasciitis limits what he can do when he has the ball as well as when Miami has it, Charlotte’s season ends quietly.

2014 NBA playoffs: After three quarters of Game 1, the Miami Heat had shot 20 free throws and the Charlotte Bobcats had shot five. In the second quarter, the Bobcats didn’t shoot a single free throw. In the second quarter Miami was called for one foul.

Instead of tanking like some fans thought they should, the Charlotte Bobcats have fought their way to respectability in the NBA.

The Miami Heat’s Chris Bosh on the Charlotte Bobcats: “They’re a tough defensive team. Of course, they’ve got the inside-out game going. They have great chemistry. On cuts they run their offense very well. They’re a classic Eastern Conference team. ...”

Most of us are not like the Miami Heat’s LeBron James. ... Most of us are more like Charlotte Bobcats’ guard-forward Chris Douglas-Roberts. At least, we’d like to be.

2014 NBA playoffs: Yes, the Miami Heat is outstanding. But Wednesday was a night not to worry about what could happen. It was a night to celebrate what the Charlotte Bobcats did.

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Tom Sorensen
Tom Sorensen has been a columnist at The Observer for 20 years and has been at the paper for 25, writing about nearly every sport in the Carolinas.