The opening games of the Eastern Conference playoffs couldn’t have gone much better for the Miami Heat.
For starters, the Heat watched as the top-seeded Indiana Pacers were stunned at home in their opener against No. 8 Atlanta. The last two No. 1 seeds to drop a series opener to a No. 8 have lost the series. Should that happen again, it would open up home-court advantage in the East for Miami.
Of more immediate importance and benefit to the Heat was the injury suffered by Charlotte Bobcats star Al Jefferson in the Bobcats’ 98-88 loss in Miami. Jefferson, who averaged 21.8 points and 10.8 rebounds this season, suffered a strained plantar fascia in his foot during the first quarter and had to receive two painkilling injections during the game to keep playing.
Jefferson left AmericanAirlines Arena in a walking boot and was still in it on Monday. He says he will play in Game 2 on Wednesday, but he won’t be able to practice at all. The Heat are 10.5-point favorites in the game, which will have Live Betting at Bovada. Miami has won 17 straight games against Charlotte, but the Bobcats hung tough for three quarters in Game 1.
The Bobcats were +1000 series underdogs to begin their series with the Heat, and that was with a healthy Jefferson. Without him, it seems likely to end in a Miami sweep. The odds of the series ending in four games were 3-2 before it started. Jefferson averaged 25.3 points (57.4% shooting) and 15.3 rebounds in three regular-season games against the Heat, and he was about the only matchup advantage that Charlotte had.
By the fourth quarter of Game 1, Jefferson was barely able to move and the Heat took control with a 18-4 run. Look for the Heat to try and get Jefferson moving as much as possible, as Chris Bosh could definitely take advantage of Jefferson’s limited mobility. Bosh was relatively quiet with 13 points and four rebounds in Game 1.
Also bad news for Charlotte: Miami’s Dwyane Wade looked fully healthy in Game 1, scoring 23 points on 10-for-16 shooting from the field. The Heat would love to finish off a sweep of the Bobcats to get Wade as much rest as possible before a potential second-round war with Brooklyn. In a perfect world for the Heat, the Nets-Raptors series goes a full seven games (and Toronto wins). The Heat remain the title favorites at 19-10.
The other Live Betting game Wednesday is Game 2 of the Western Conference quarterfinals between the Portland Trail Blazers and Houston Rockets. They played a very entertaining Game 1, won by the Blazers 122-120 in overtime behind 46 points and 18 rebounds from LaMarcus Aldridge. Damian Lillard added 31. The Rockets feared that their best perimeter defender, point guard Patrick Beverley, may have seriously re-aggravated a knee injury in the game, but he has been cleared for Game 2. Houston is a 6-point favorite for Wednesday, but the No. 5 Blazers are now -135 series favorites.
Photo via Twitter/@TerryMimms