Heat looking to improve in Game 2 vs. Bobcats

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MIAMI (AP) - LeBron James grabbed a basketball off a rack as he left the practice court Tuesday, then turned and took a 40-footer without so much as jumping.

Swish.

Seems like James and the Heat aren’t worried about much right now. Their opponents in this Eastern Conference first-round series can’t feel the same.

Charlotte star Al Jefferson’s availability for Game 2 is clearly in some doubt, yet another indicator of how difficult it may be for the Bobcats to even up this series when they visit Miami again on Wednesday night.

“If Jefferson is laboring a little bit … my approach, and our team’s approach, shouldn’t change,” James said.

The Heat took Game 1 on Sunday, shaking off a slow start to win 99-88, increasing James‘ record to 9-0 in his postseason openers. Jefferson was hurt in the first quarter of that game, diagnosed with a plantar fascia strain in his left foot. He limped throughout the final three quarters, needed two injections to play, left in a walking boot and hasn’t practiced since.

Jefferson wants to play. That doesn’t guarantee anything.

“It’s really going to be depending on his level of pain right before the game because in order to give him as much time as possible to heal, they’re going to keep the walking boot on there,” said Charlotte coach Steve Clifford, who isn’t sure if Jefferson will participate in a walkthrough on Wednesday morning. “My understanding is that we really won’t know until they take it off and he tries to put more weight and pressure on his foot.”

Miami has an injury concern as well, with starting point guard Mario Chalmers being held out of practice Tuesday because of a bruised shin.

Whether Jefferson plays or not, Miami expects Charlotte to get Kemba Walker even more involved in the offense, using his pick-and-roll strengths to try and create some issues for the Heat.

“It doesn’t change what we’re doing,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “You hope that everybody’s healthy. He was able to establish a big low-point presence in the first half. He’ll still be able to do that if he’s in the game.”

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Here’s five things to know going into Game 2:

MKG NEEDS TIME: Keeping Michael Kidd-Gilchrist on the floor is critical for Charlotte. The Bobcats outscored Miami by eight when he played in Game 1. But he logged a season-low 14:41 because of foul trouble - a double-whammy for the Bobcats since he was primarily guarding LeBron James. It was only the 14th time this season that Kidd-Gilchrist had at least four fouls in a game, but three of those have come against Miami.

WADE WATCH: Heat guard Dwyane Wade said Tuesday he still considers himself “working my way back” but hopes he can find the same rhythm in Game 2 as he had in Game 1. Wade was highly efficient in the series opener, making 10 of 16 shots, scoring 23 points and best of all for Miami, he felt relatively fine afterward. Miami is 41-9 when Wade shoots better than 50 percent in a playoff game.

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