Five shortcomings from Game 1 against the Miami Heat that the Charlotte Bobcats can’t repeat if they expect to win Game 2:
1 Turnovers: To be more specific, live-ball turnovers. It’s bad to commit a shot-clock violation or to throw the ball out-of-bounds, but at least that stops play while the Miami Heat in-bounds the ball.
The truly costly turnovers are when the Heat intercepts a pass or strips a Bobcat off the dribble, because the Heat is most dangerous in transition. Miami was second in the NBA in steals in the regular season and particularly adept at converting opponent turnovers into points. Sunday, 15 Bobcats turnovers – including six by point guard Kemba Walker – became 20 Miami points.
2 Fouls: The Bobcats were really stingy on fouls committed this season, averaging an NBA-low 18.2 per game. Sunday they were slightly below that average at 17, but the fouls they did commit were costly in two ways: They sent Miami to the foul line and limited the options for guarding Heat superstar LeBron James.
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Small forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist committed four fouls in less than 15 minutes, so he had to sit for long stretches. Kidd-Gilchrist is by far the best option for guarding James. Chris Douglas-Roberts also took a turn guarding James and ended up with three fouls.
The Heat took 26 free throws, compared with the Bobcats’ 12. The Bobcats were outscored at the foul line 23-8, pretty much the difference in an 11-point playoff loss.
3 Second-chance points: This should logically be a Bobcats strength against a Miami team that was league-worst in offensive, defensive and overall rebounding. Except it wasn’t Sunday.
Miami converted six offensive rebounds into 14 second-chance points. The Bobcats converted eight offensive rebounds into nine second-chance points. Kidd-Gilchrist and rookie Cody Zeller are probably best equipped to hit the offensive boards, particularly with center Al Jefferson suffering from a plantar fascia injury.
4 James Jones: Miami’s Big Three of James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh predictably scored 63 of the Heat’s 99 points. The wild card was reserve forward James Jones, who wasn’t necessarily in the rotation before this playoff series.
Jones made 4-of-6 shots overall and 2-of-3 from 3-point range for 12 points off the bench. The Bobcats defense is designed to pack the paint, which means they take their chances against 3-point threats. Bobcats reserve guard Gary Neal said it’s important they stay conscious of closing out on Jones, because he consistently makes open 3s.
5 Gerald Henderson’s offense: Henderson stayed after practice Tuesday for some considerable work on his jump shot off the dribble and finishing at the rim. He was 3-of-9 from the field Sunday for six points, less than half his regular-season average. Meanwhile Wade generated 23 points off 10-of-16 shooting.
Henderson doesn’t have to outplay Wade for the Bobcats to win a game, but it has to be closer than Sunday.