Charlotte Hornets

Five musts for the Charlotte Bobcats to beat the Miami Heat in Game 3

Five musts for the Charlotte Bobcats to beat the Miami Heat in Game 3 of their best-of-7 playoff series:

1. Match the Heat’s precision: Bobcats coach Steve Clifford keeps saying the Heat’s talent can blind fans to how well organized and coached they are.

“We have to play mistake-free,” Clifford said Friday. “It’s not just their talent, it’s their purpose. They’re so disciplined.”

2. and 3. Level the free-throw balance: Over the first two games the Heat has taken 24 more free throws than the Bobcats. It will take two things for that to change – guard with more precision and drive the ball more.

“The free-throw game is big,” Clifford said. “In Game 2 we did a better job of driving the ball, particularly Gerald (Henderson) and Mike (Kidd-Gilchrist).

“Now we’ve got to do a better job of guarding without putting them on the line.”

4. Find some secondary scoring: The Bobcats got just 18 points from the bench Wednesday. Part of that was simply a bad shooting night from Gary Neal (1-of-8 from the field). Clifford hoped giving rookie Cody Zeller additional minutes (as opposed to playing Bismack Biyombo as backup center) would help the scoring. Zeller took two shots in 11 minutes, scoring three points.

5. Keep Big Al connected to teammates: Center Al Jefferson’s plantar fascia injury has made it harder for him to finish at the rim. But the Bobcats still play through Jefferson because it forces the Heat to double-team him.

Now it’s extra important teammates present themselves as targets for Jefferson’s passes, because he can’t just bull his way to the basket.

Rick Bonnell

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