CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The hard foul by Charlotte forward Josh McRoberts on LeBron James at the end of Game 2 compelled Heat coach Erik Spoelstra to defend his star player on Friday, but the Heat expects the series to get even more physical on Saturday.
“I think it’s going to get taken up a couple more levels,” Chris Bosh said on Saturday morning after the Heat’s shootaround at Charlotte’s Time Warner Cable Arena. “They’re going to be hyped tonight. They’ve been working all season for this, to have an opportunity to play a playoff game in front of their home crowd.”
Game 3 of the first-round playoff series between the Heat and Bobcats begins at 7 p.m. The Heat leads the best-of-7 series 2-0, and Miami is the only team in a wild beginning to the NBA playoffs to retain home-court advantage through two games.
Saturday is the Bobcats’ first home playoff game since 2010. The franchise has never won a playoff game. The Charlotte Hornets, which moved to New Orleans in 2002, went 2-2 at home during the 2001-02 playoffs.
“It’s always tough playing on the road,” Bosh said. “That extra energy is something you have to really play against, but hopefully we can take it and use it to our advantage and come out of here with a win tonight.”
Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said a more consistent effort will be needed out of the Heat to win away from AmericanAirlines Arena. The Heat led by 14 points in the fourth quarter of Game 2, but the Bobcats had a chance to tie the game twice in the final 70 seconds.
“We had some great basketball on both ends of the court, and then we had some sloppy basketball that opens up the door,” Spoelstra said. “When you crack the door, you never know what’s going to happen.”
That cracked door also led to McRoberts’ hard foul on James in the final minute of the game. The Heat led by three points when James drove the basket with 50 seconds left. McRoberts met James in the air with an elbow to the throat and was called for a common foul. The NBA later upgraded the foul to a Flagrant-2 and fined McRoberts $20,000.