- Associated Press - Friday, April 25, 2014

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) - The Charlotte Bobcats have likely earned some respect around the NBA after hanging tough with the two-time defending champion Miami Heat.

But the Bobcats want more.

“I think we know that we can challenge these guys and win,” Bobcats point guard Kemba Walker said on Friday. “We’re still confident as a team.”

Still, it would be a tall task to beat the Heat in one game, let alone a best-of-seven series.

The Bobcats find themselves in a 2-0 hole as the series shifts to Charlotte for Game 3 on Saturday night.

That’s pretty much where everyone expected them to be after two games in Miami. The inexperienced Bobcats entered the series with four starters that had never started a playoff game, compared to a Heat team that has enough championship rings to open a jewelry store.

But the past two games have been surprisingly competitive.

Charlotte led early in Game 1 before losing by 11. The Bobcats had a chance to send Game 2 into overtime Wednesday night but Dwyane Wade came up with a steal in the final seconds to seal Miami’s 18th straight victory over Charlotte.

The Bobcats have played tough despite center Al Jefferson being hobbled by a strained plantar fascia in his left foot since the first quarter of Game 1.

Jefferson is expected to play Saturday night, but he isn’t close to 100 percent.

Miami is a great team,” Walker said. “They are the defending champions, and we knew it wasn’t going to be easy from the get go. … We fought hard, but at the same time we feel like it shouldn’t have come down to those late-game situations. There are so many mistakes we made over the course of the game that we probably could have been up.”

Charlotte hasn’t hosted a playoff game in four years, and Miami star LeBron James is expecting a “very challenging” game.

“Their team is very desperate because they know they can’t go down 3-0,” James said. “So we have to come in with the mindset that we want to win Game 3, not go up 3-0. We’re not going there for a sweep. We’re going there to win Game 3, and then we’ll worry about what comes after that.”

Coach Erik Spoelstra knows the Heat can’t make a mistake by taking the Bobcats lightly.

“As you’re seeing across the league in the playoffs, anything can happen right now,” Spoelstra said. “Momentum from one game doesn’t guarantee you anything. We need a more complete, consistent game.”

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