In what was one of the best offensive games of this year, the Miami Heat completely throttled the Charlotte Hornets never stepping off the gas and in doing so setting a franchise record for points scored in a playoff game. This is how it went down.
The Heat came out swinging, with Luol Deng hitting a corner three right off the bat. They looked solid on defense as well, limiting Charlotte’s options in the paint and frustrating Cody Zeller. Joe Johnson had two fouls almost straight away so Winslow found himself in the game earlier than usual. Charlotte looked solid from beyond the arc, forcing the Heat to play up close. The Hornets also seemed to play a very spastic but quick offensive set using misdirection to get buckets.
Heat looked incredibly focused delivering in transition and making the Hornets pay on any mistakes. Hassan Whiteside capitalized on his first game in the playoffs looking great, and completely exploiting Al Jefferson. Justise Winslow’s presence was beneficial early, and the rooks didn’t seem to show any nerves if they had any making smart decisions and saving possessions.
Deng looked incredible shooting perfectly from the field, hitting multiple threes and taking a charge on the other end, as did Goran Dragic who was a complete maestro on the offensive end.
Charlotte wouldn’t go down easy, entering the second quarter with tenacity as Nicolas Batum converted on an and one. In fact it was Batum doing most of the work for the Hornets on offense hitting some very impressive jumpers. Winslow continued his stellar play, even mimicking D-Wade on a euro step of his own.
Turnovers again started to trouble Miami, but the Heat managed to keep their foot on the gas. Wade also started showing flashes of his greatness making Jeremy Lin look silly with his bag of tricks. Miami also destroyed on the glass, completely dominating the "best" defensive rebounding team in the league. The Heat had trouble with fouls, allowing Charlotte into the bonus just halfway into the quarter.
Deng continued his dominance on offense, really looking like a key part of Miami’s offense and finishing the 1st half with 18 points and 5 rebounds. As the half came to a close Udonis Haslem, and Gerald Green would enter the game most likely to protect key players from foul calls. Miami would end the half up 17.
Miami started the second half strong with Whiteside forcing a Batum turnover on a three point shot. Deng continued his amazing play with another three, and Whiteside continued to destroy inside the paint and on defense at the other end.
Wade also looked fantastic hitting some very tough shots, and getting into his rhythm. Charlotte looked desperate and tried to push the pace, which caused Miami to once again foul, but really the only offensive options the Hornets seemed to have was Batum.
The Heat ended the third quarter strong with amazing play from Whiteside.
As the Heat entered the fourth, Deng’s strong play didn’t falter. The Heat continued to pressure on the defensive end, and the Hornets just appeared deflated. Surprisingly Amar’e Stoudemire was the one who was shutting down Jefferson, anticipating every move he wanted to make. Jefferson’s frustration was evident, as was Stat’s smile. Additionally, Stat was phenomenal on offense making it look the game was being played in Phoenix five years ago.
Miami’s dominance on the glass wasn’t subtle with Charlotte, just unable to grab a board on defense. Winslow played huge minutes, but looked like a savvy veteran completely abusing Frank Kaminsky and signaling NCAA championship flashbacks. The Heat refused to let up, with Wade coming back into the game. The Heat displayed some of the best chemistry they have this season, and just looked like they were having a fantastic time.
Josh McRoberts, Dorell Wright, and Briante Weber would all see floor time as the game entered garbage time solidifying a spectacular game one win for the Miami Heat.