Charlotte Bobcats. Contender?
Charlotte Bobcats: Contender?
It seems like the world is turned upside down. Detroit is falling behind in the East, Phoenix is on the outside looking in right now, Dwayne Wade is the leading scorer and playing though injuries, Allen Iverson made Detroit worse not better and the Charlotte Bobcats have won 3 straight, on the road, against the Western Conference. Of the Eastern Conference, the Bobcats have the longest win streak right now. I read a recap of the game the other night against Golden State and the writer opened with something like “For a team that is 5 games under .500 the Bobcats sure aren’t shy about talking up their playoff chances.” The AP wrap from ESPN.com doesn’t state it as bluntly or as condescending “The Charlotte Bobcats lost an inordinate amount of close games early in the season. They just hope it won’t come back to haunt them, now that they’re within striking distance of the franchise’s first playoff berth.”
Yeah, it was tough sledding in the first part of the season, really and truly frustrating. But then again, for all of us who have been around since the beginning, that’s nothing new. We’ve been over the renovations to the roster by way of trade and the addition of real veteran leadership in Juwan Howard. We’ve had the possible addition by subtraction story with Jason Richardson and his love for doing strange things in his car and the duplication of seemingly never on shooters Adam Morrison and Matt Carroll. We know what the Bobcats are right now, the proof is in the pudding when it comes to execution. (What the hell does that mean “proof in the pudding?” Somebody get Alton Brown, the real life Anal Retentive Chef on the phone.)
I really don’t think you can blame whatever happens on those early close losses. You have to know what the mistakes were, whether game plan or execution and move on. The gamble is, in the close games where it comes down to one shot at the buzzer or one play with about 19 ticks left on the clock, who is the guy that is going to make the shot? Raymond Felton has seemed like the guy but who knows. Diaw hit the go ahead 3 the other night against Golden State but can he be unselfish and not necessarily reliable. I don’t want close games but they happen, because this team is so defensive minded and the offense is weak. It’s just the bottom line, this team will not blow anyone out with any regularity.
Four up four down since the All Star break. The whole month of February the ’Cats are nine for the good and nine for the bad. The part that bothers me though is that 3 of those losses came against the Orlando Magic. I hate the Magic. Dwight Howard is one of these guys who is too big for his body. He seems like a nice enough kid but against smaller centers he throws elbows then looks at the refs like he can’t believe it when a foul is called. I liked Superman last year but come on, lets get original this year. I know he leads the league in rebounds and blocks and double-doubles but he’s a jerk and I don’t like him. Poop-head, really I don’t have an argument here except I don’t like the attitude. Rashard Lewis is 6’10″ and from the United States, get on the blocks young man and help your team. I’m just saying, let’s not just roll over and take it from these guys mostly because I don’t like them and I’m starting to feel like they’re the bullies and we’re the geeks.
So what’s the point? I think that these Bobcats the way they are set up right now have a shot to make a run into the playoffs and depending on who they see (Boston rather than Orlando or Cleveland) could make waves in the first round. I think that with the shooting of Vlad Rad, the rebounds and defensive presence that Okafor brings, the winning experience of Raja and Diaw, the interior passing of Diaw, the solid decision making when reigned in by the coach of Ray and DJ, all of that sets this team up for possible success. Possible, but not definite. The bench is still weak. The decisions that Ray and DJ make when the ball is in their hands are sometimes questionable (I think LB said “If you jack up another 3, so help me I’ll bring in MJ and Dean Smith”). I don’t know about Gerald Wallace’s durability, we call him “Crash” for a reason. We don’t have that last minute all things necessary scorer.
There are questions but the discussion is there. It’s legit. The Bobcats are possibly on a playoff run. Upcoming games against Chicago (2 games ahead in the East), New York (half a game back), some more against the West and then closing out the month with a run against the Pacers, Raptors, Sixers, Knicks and Lakers, whoa. You better get your tickets now, both for the games and for the bandwagon. Just remember who told you, the Bobcats are good and they will be good now and into the next month and a half and will make the playoffs, well, unless they don’t.