The one thing about the beginning of the season is that everyone literally starts on the same plane. Prior to the first game of the season everyone is undefeated and theoretically has just as much of a shot to get to the Finals as the next guy.
Of course in time realism sets in as the teams start to play and the men quickly begin to separate themselves from the boys.
Until that moment happens though one could make a positive argument for the future of any team until it loses. So with that in mind I feel the need to pose what I think is an interesting question—
Should we get excited over the Charlotte Bobcats season opening win over the Indiana Pacers?
The easy answer is yes, because after all a win is a win is a win is a win, right? Indiana was one of the top teams in the Eastern Conference last season with a record of 42-24 and is expected to be pretty competitive this season as well. Anytime you beat a team of that caliber is reason to be happy.
You also have to take in mind the roster turnover and the new coach. Even though the team has had a full off-season to get on the same page it is an entirely different thing to go from practice and preseason contests to the regular season.
So far this preseason the Bobcats have looked good, but in most games there was one quarter where they would just suck scoring in single digits (or barely in the double digits). Word has it that new coach Mike Dunlap has been engaging the team in some marathon practices too (three to four hours sometimes).
Dunlap has been questioned by some in the media for pushing the team too hard in that regard. According to his detractors it should not take that long to get a group of professionals to learn your system and perform. He does have the support of the guy that matters most– the owner, His Airness Michael Jordan:
“You can’t sit here and look yourself in the mirror and say we don’t need this stuff. If that was the case, we shouldn’t have been a 7-59 team. So in essence when you’re a 7-59 team, you go back to the basics, you go back to try and figure out a way, OK, we need to do this thing the right way. Either you buy in or you’re not a part of this whole process.”
You could say that the Bobcats played an unbalanced game yet again against the Pacers scoring 35 in one period and 16 in another, but in each period they were competitive with what the Pacers scored (17-20, 22-23, 35-27, and 16-19).
It is also important to note that the team also won its opener last season by a single point, 96-95 over the Milwaukee Bucks. They then proceeded to win just six more of their next 65 games with a 23-game losing streak to end the season.
Saturday’s blowout loss to the Dallas Mavericks is eerily similar to how last season started when the team was blown out in its second game by Orlando. On the bright side the second and third periods were competitive, but the reality is the team got blown out in periods one and four and was outscored in the third as well.
Believing that the team is going to suck again takes nothing. It’s the easy way out. Dallas is a good team and a perennial playoff contender; they should do as well as they did. However, it takes a little something more to believe that the changes in personnel and coaching can actually make a difference in the fate of the team.
To use an old saying that I just heard used in a show my kids were watching it takes a little faith (in the players), trust (in the coach), and pixie dust (yea, I got nothing for that, but you get what I mean).