I had concerns about this Bobcat team from the first day of the season. When you see that an NBA team only has two legitimate starters on the roster, and one of those two players is traded during the season, you have the makings of a frustrating campaign. Gerald Wallace was traded; and the other valid NBA starter, Stephen Jackson, has been hampered with a hamstring injury for weeks. Boris Diaw, the ‘Cats starting power forward, shows up to play when he “feels” like it. Center Kwame Brown has shown solid games but still lacks consistancy. DJ Augustine has not proven himself, at least to me, to be a starting NBA point guard but more of a sixth-man back-up type NBA player. The result of this rather motley crew are home losses to other bad teams like the Pistons.
The Bobcats have been mathematically eliminated from playoff contention after losing to Orlando. The ‘Cats were once again playing without the injured Stephen Jackson, but Gerald Henderson shined with a 32 point night for Charlotte. The Bobcats had four starters, DJ Augustine the lone exception, score in double figures. Surprisingly, offense was not the problem for Charlotte as they shot a reasonable 46.4% from the floor and an outstanding 90% from the free throw line. They could not stop an Orlando team that shot 53.9% from the field. The loss does leave the ‘Cats fan base looking toward the draft now that the playoff hunt is officially dead.
The Bobcats have become about as streaky as any team can be, following a four game losing streak with a four game winning streak. But playing at home against arguably the worst team in the NBA, and struggling to hold onto a one point win, does not inspire confidence in this team. It’s true that the Cavs came off their biggest win of the season against the Miami Heat but they had to travel and play the ‘Cats in a back-to-back game. Stephen Jackson, Charlottes’ best player, did not return for the second half because of his lingering hamstring injury, but Jackson, 3 points and 2 assists, was not having a major impact and the ‘Cats trailed by three points at the half.
This game appeared to be more about the Celtics indifferent play heading into the playoffs than a stunning upset by the Bobcats. But to give due credit, the ‘Cats had as many players (four) scoring in double figures as the Celtics. Charlotte notched their third win against nine losses so far in March. That makes the game more about the lack of intensity from a Celtics team assured a playoff spot.
The Bobcats played one of the two teams, the Bucks being the other, that they have to beat to have any chance of getting into the playoffs this year. Well, after being totally dominated by the Pacers in the second half, I think it is safe to say these ‘Cats are not going to the playoffs this year. The first half ended with Charlotte behind by one point but the second half was totally controlled by Indiana. The Pacers outscored the Bobcats 57-34 after halftime.
The Pacers shot better than the Bobcats, 53.2%-44.4%, controlled the boards against the ‘Cats, 37-28, and had one less turn-over than the Bobcats, 11-12, and they did this against Charlotte on their home court. It is not even important, as far as the playoffs go, for the ‘Cats to keep games close – they had to win, but fell miserably short. The loss puts the Bobcats three games behind the Pacers for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.