CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Al Jefferson knows few people will give the Charlotte Bobcats a chance to upset the Miami Heat in the first round of the NBA Eastern Conference playoffs.
That doesn’t matter to the veteran center.
“They didn’t give us a chance in October, if you remember,” Jefferson said. “We were going to be last in the league, right? So we don’t worry about what is said outside of these walls right here.”
The Bobcats defeated the Chicago Bulls 91-86 in overtime on Wednesday night to finish the season 43-39 and as the seventh seed in the East. Not bad for a team that was a combined 28-120 over the previous two seasons.
But now there is the monumental task of beating the two-time defending NBA champions, something the Bobcats haven’t done in the LeBron James era.
The Heat are 15-0 against the Bobcats since James signed.
“It’s going to be a challenge, but it’s the playoffs and anything can happen,” Bobcats guard Kemba Walker said. “It’s not going to be easy. We’re going to go out there and give it all we got just like we have been doing all year.”
The series starts Sunday.
“It’s going to be a dogfight,” Jefferson said.
The Bulls finished as the No. 4 seed in the East and will face Washington in the first round after the Wizards leap-frogged the Brooklyn Nets on the final night of the season to grab the fifth spot.
“They are a great transition team with a lot of shooters and size,” Bulls forward Carlos Boozer said. “To make the playoffs you have to be a good team, and they’re a good team.”
After missing a jumper that would have won the game in regulation, Walker scored eight of his 22 points in overtime to help the Bobcats beat the Bulls for the first time this season and finish the regular season with eight wins in their final nine games.