- Charlotte’s chances at picking up a win tonight in Game 4 against Miami took a big hit earlier today when the Bobcats said Al Jefferson would not play. Jefferson, who leads the team in scoring (18.7 points and 9.3 rebounds), has had his play limited since he strained the plantar fascia in his left foot in the first quarter of Game 1 in Miami, April 20. “Al Jefferson won’t play tonight,” Charlotte coach Steve Clifford said pregame. “One game between games just wasn’t enough. He tried hard, but won’t be able to go. Our medical staff is great and did all they could.” Clifford will start Bismack Biyombo in place of Jefferson and continue to use Cody Zeller in his role with the second team. The Heat say they’re disappinted that Jefferson won’t be in the lineup. “We would prefer that he play tonight,” Miami coach Erik Spoelstra said. “Now there’s an unknown and you don’t want there to be a spark. We have to make sure we get after it tonight and not get caught.”
- The Bobcats hope there is no letdown with Jefferson out. “We had a great shoot around,” Clifford said. “It’s not easy to be down 3-0 and to also be without your best offensive player is tough. We work real hard. I’ve been very proud of how we’ve fought all year long and I won’t expect any less tonight.”
- The Heat have the opportunity tonight to become the first team to win a first-round series. Miami has started out 3-0 in each of the previous three first round series and won the first round matchup in each of those years. The Heat have won 19 consecutives games against the Bobcats, who are searching for the first playoff win in franchise history. The Charlotte franchise’s on-court identity as the Bobcats could come to a close tonight as the team will reclaim the Hornets nickname for the 2014-15 season.
LeBron James will be a huge part of the Heat’s game plan tonight. James has been dominant against Charlotte this season having notched a career-high scoring effort and averaging 37 points of the course of the team’s first seven meetings this year. The Heat know that a win tonight will allow them extra rest before the second round begins. ‘
- Spoelstra indicated that the Heat would most likely “do something” during the course of the game in response to comments released over the weekend attributed to Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling. The Bobcats made no inidcations of such a move prior to the game.
- Miami starters: LeBron James, Udonis Haslem, Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade, Mario Chalmers. Charlotte starters:Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Josh McRoberts, Bismack Biyombo, Gerald Henderson, Kemba Walker.– Derek S. Smith