Miami Unfortunately, it’s this simple.

If Al Jefferson isn’t effective, the Charlotte Bobcats have no chance to beat the Miami Heat. If Jefferson ceases to be Big Al, if plantar fasciitis limits what he can do when he has the ball as well as when Miami has it, Charlotte’s season ends quietly.

Jefferson scored a game-high eight points in the first quarter at AmericanAirlines Arena on Sunday.

With 2 minutes, 10 seconds left in the quarter, Jefferson ran without the ball and felt a pop in his left foot. His plantar fasciitis recurred.

Jefferson returned in the second quarter, but he was a lesser player. He didn’t run down court. He slogged. His pretty moves in the lane, side to side, back and forth, require quickness. And his quickness was gone.

He’d lose a Miami defender, have an open path to the basket and still take the jump shot. He no longer was Big Al.

He finished with 18 points and 10 rebounds, a double-double that was nice but insufficient. His teammates occasionally surged without him. But the Heat opened the playoffs by beating Charlotte 99-88.

Jefferson “is very good with positioning and has an unbelievable touch for a big guy,” LeBron James says when I ask him about Big Al. “His touch around the rim is big-time and that’s why he’s been putting up the kind of numbers he’s been putting up for the last two months.

“He was slowed down a little bit in the second half due to injury. Not sure what it was, but for us we’re going to prepare 100 percent every game (for him) because he’s a huge piece to the puzzle.”

After the game Jefferson walked to a chair behind a table on a stage. You could have held a conversation on Twitter in the time it took him to move up the three steps. His left foot was encased in a walking boot.

“I feel a lot better now but when it first happened there was a lot of pain,” he says. “As the game went on it eased up on me. I just got to suck it up. I’ll be fine for the rest of the playoffs. I don’t know all the details but I know I’ll be OK. Just something you got to play through.”