TD Garden might as well have been renamed “The Last Arena on The Left” last night, as the Bobcats were sadistically snuffed out in a blowout that bordered on exploitative, 105-88. The victory enabled the Celtics to avenge their unsettling defeat at the hands of those same marauding Bobcats earlier in the week. The final margin was only 17 points, but Paul Pierce sat for the entire 4th quarter and Kevin Garnett never played. Nonetheless, the Celtics spit on the Bobcats’ grave by shooting almost 52% from the field and hitting 10-15 3-pointers. “I thought defensively it was pretty disappointing,” Charlotte coach Mike Dunlap understated afterward. “I think we’re a better defensive team.” It’s unclear why he would think that, considering the Bobcats are the league’s worst team in defensive efficiency, according to teamrankings.com, allowing 1.075 points-per-possession. Oh wait, I see last night they allowed 1.132 PPP, so technically I guess he’s right; the Bobcats are a better defensive team—I take it back, coach!
Friday and Saturday nights were essentially Kill Bobcats: Vol. 1 & 2, because the Toronto Raptors got their own bloody revenge prior to the Celtics, winning 92-78 in Toronto. With Amir Johnson (21 rebounds) as the Bride, the Raptors made the Bobcats die slowly on defense, holding them to 32.5% shooting, including a disastrous 6-of-22 from distance. Presumably the Raptors’ 14-point victory provided the necessary cathartic release from when they were left for dead months ago in Charlotte in a 1-point loss that featured a cruel no-call in the final moments. In a relentless and nearly-unwatchable 4th quarter, the Bobcats went almost 9 full minutes before hitting a field goal, their only one of the quarter. “You’re not going to win in the NBA when you score 10 points in the fourth,” Dunlap pointed out, helpfully specifying that his opinion was applicable to the NBA rather than, say, the Major Indoor Lacrosse League.
Is there any hope for the Bobcats, any shotgun we can hand this NBA hobo? No, there isn’t. But there might at least be a rusty machete to be found if we dig around the stats long enough…For instance, the Bobcats’ 2nd-most used lineup this year (according to stats.nba.com)—Walker, Taylor, Kidd-Gilchrist, Mullens, and Haywood—is only a net -2.8 in offense/defense point differential. Considering that 4 of those guys are rookies or still on their rookie deals, it suggests that with natural growth they’ll eventually start turning a profit. And for those of you concerned that that lineup is missing a certain Congolese big man and a certain prematurely balding shooting guard, the 4th-most used lineup of Walker, Sessions, Henderson, Mullens, and Biyombo is just a negative 2.0. Again, with time, love, and tenderness, some of these Jasons will grow up to be Voorhees’.
It’s basically everything else that’s been a repellant disaster. And that includes this latest starting lineup that they’ve thrown out the last several games, in which Josh McRoberts starts for Mullens. This is possibly due to Mullens’ back problems but more likely it’s based on the classic tactical strategy reminiscent of Sun-Tzu called, “We’ve only won 14 games, why the hell not?” Well, a negative 17.4 differential would be why the hell not. This unit has only put in 49 minutes together, but how much time do we need to look at Leatherface before deciding that we might want to take that chainsaw away from him? Unfortunately, McRoberts has a terrible penchant for spot up shots that ravages the rest of his fairly decent abilities. Last night I took my first hit off the statistical crack that is mysynergysports.com, and it’s enabled me to feel depressed about the Bobcats in mind-blowing new ways (if you have $19.99 to spare and want to ruin your life, I suggest you try it out; they ought to sell it in vials). Anyway, according to the site, 22.5% of McRoberts’ possessions have been spot-up shots, and he’s only averaging about .44 PPP. For a comparison, that’s almost exactly the same percentage of possessions as Mullens (whom we also wish weren’t so shot-happy), except that Mullens averages .8 PPP; he’s nearly doubly as effective. McRoberts is a better passer and a slightly better defender than BJ, but all of those long-range shots are slitting the throats’ of the Bobcats offense and splattering fans with the gore of double-digit losses.
Anyway, hopefully I gave you some good news in this grindhouse of an article. If you need me, I’ll be in chained in the bathroom with my laptop and Jigsaw.
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