“It’s time to take it to another level,” Jefferson said. “We reached one goal. Regardless of what happens in the playoffs, we are one of the teams that stood out this year and we are proud of that. So now it’s time to stick together more than ever.”
To stop James and the Heat, Clifford knows it’ll take more than just sticking together.
“There are only so many things you can do,” Clifford said. “I know this: The more aggressive you are with him, the more layups and open shoots the other guys shoot. He’s a phenomenal player.”
Here’s five things to know heading into Game 1 on Sunday:
EXPERIENCE: Everyone on Charlotte’s roster, combined, has a total of 858 playoff points and 15 starts in the postseason. The Heat numbers in those categories: 14,965 points and 727 starts. Plus, the Heat franchise has 103 all-time playoff wins, while the Bobcats have exactly zero. In theory, none of that should matter Sunday, but most would agree playoff basketball is just different — so Charlotte will probably have to do some learning on the fly.
ODEN’S ROLE: Miami brought Greg Oden in to aid its frontcourt, especially at playoff time. And the 7-foot Oden had a role in this series before it started. Oden has been working as the designated Jefferson-imitator in Heat practices, trying to emulate some of the things that Charlotte’s go-to guy does down low.
DEFENDING LEBRON: James had the 61-point game against the Bobcats that everyone remembers. But Charlotte didn’t have any answers for him all season. James’ “other” games against Charlotte: 34, 30 and 26 points. His averages for the season against the Bobcats: 37.8 points, 6.0 rebounds, 5.5 assists on 63 percent shooting.
DEFENDING AL: Jefferson is now a major problem for Miami. The winner of the past two East player of the month awards averaged 25.3 points and 15.3 rebounds in three games against Miami, shooting 57 percent. His career numbers against Miami entering this season: 13.4 points and 9.4 rebounds per game on 46 percent shooting.