A plucky effort from the Charlotte Bobcats wasn’t enough to overcome the excellence of the two-time defending champions.
LeBron James and Dwyane Wade scored 50 points as the Heat rode the duo and a pair of big runs to seal their 17th straight victory over Charlotte and take control of the series.
The Heat tucked the game away with an 18-3 run early in the fourth that came largely with LeBron on the bench.
The Bobcats, on their return to the playoffs, had jumped out to an early lead behind Al Jefferson and Kemba Walker. Jefferson scored 18 points and 10 rebounds, exploiting Miami’s lack of high quality big men before a plantar fascia sprain curtailed his effective contributions.
Jefferson left American Airlines Arena in a walking boot, having needed multiple pain injections just to remain in the game.
Kemba Walker scored 20 points on his playoff debut and appeared unfazed by the big occasion.
With Game 2 not taking place until Wednesday, the Bobcats returned back to Charlotte, giving Jefferson plenty of time to heal. They’ll need him to be at his absolute best to have any hopes of extending the series past four games.
Chris Bosh scored just 13 points on 4-13 from the floor and was largely ineffectual, in direct contrast to James Jones, who provided a crucial spark off the Heat bench.
Miami always seems to get contributions from unlikely role players in the playoffs. With Mike Miller gone, James Jones stepped up and scored 12 points in 14 minutes, missing two of his six shot attempts.
LeBron James: 27 points, 8-16 FGS, 9 REB
Dwyane Wade: 23 points, 10-16 FGS, 5 AST
James Jones: 12 points, 4-6 FGS
Kemba Walker: 20 points, 6-15 FGS, 6 AST
Al Jefferson: 18 points, 9-17 FGS, 10 REB
Gary Neal: 17 points, 7-16 FGS, 3 REB
Game 2: Wednesday, April 23rd, 7pm ET (TNT)