Perhaps I was hyping up this solid start to the season for the Bobcats a bit too much. Then again, maybe we can chalk Charlotte’s latest loss up to a poor shooting night and the fact that they were facing one of the top teams in the entire league.
Or maybe we should take Monday night’s 114-69 thrashing by the hands of the Oklahoma City Thunder for what it is: a much better team handling an inferior team.
I’d like to say Charlotte gave a valiant effort and simply came up short on Monday night, but that’s simply not true. The Thunder rocked the Bobcats in every way imaginable. And this wasn’t just a bad shooting night. For a while, it was bad on an epic level. Early on, fans were scraping their jaws off the ground when the Thunder were rocking Charlotte by a score of 82-29. Obviously the game was over before it even began when you start looking at the first quarter, but this wasn’t just a bad game – it was an embarrassment.
Still, the Bobcats are 7-6, and fell to an 11-4 team that was in the NBA Finals last year. Some good can come of this. And overall, we learned quite a few things.
First, that Charlotte isn’t really ready for the big dogs. Obviously they didn’t bring their shooting stroke to this one (29%), but they also were out-rebounded (54-37) and crushed on assists (31-12).
Looking back on their previous 12 games, this is something we probably should have prepared for. After all, Charlotte’s wins have come against the Pacers, Mavericks, Wizards (twice), Timberwolves, Bucks and Raptors. Of all those teams, only the Bucks rest above .500 at the time of this recap.
That doesn’t mean this solid 7-6 start for a former cellar dweller is all smoke. It doesn’t mean the Bobcats haven’t made progress and are about to go on a 14-game skid. However, it likely means that they’re nothing more than an average team that is probably over-achieving a bit and will be lucky to end the year at 41-41 and within striking distance of the NBA playoffs.
I said this team would be 6-9 in the month of November and got laughed at. The Bobcats have two games to go and they’re 7-6. The most important thing to note so far is that rookie head coach Mike Dunlap has this team playing at a pretty high level on a consistent basis. As the Oklahoma City Thunder showed us in the worst way possible, however, that type of effort and precision is likely to only work consistently against other average or bad NBA rosters.
I doubt anyone was confusing the Bobcats with an NBA Finals contender this year, and probably not even a legit playoff contender. But this horrible loss aside, Charlotte can still contend for the latter, and their youth and talent still carries a lot of promise.
As Bobcats fans, right now that’s not too bad of a thing to lean on.