I was on the optimistic side before the season began when analyzing the prospects of the Charlotte Bobcats for the first month of the season. I was criticized a bit for predicting a 6-9 November start, and while I freely admit it was a bit of a reach at the time, it turns out my lofty expectations of a young (but talented) team weren’t so far fetched, after all. In fact, the Bobcats topped my prediction, and finished the first month of the season at 7-8.
They kickoff the month of December tonight against the Portland Trail Blazers, so it only made sense to get back to the magic eight ball and try to predict how the team will do over the course of the next month. It’s a month of giving, cheer, and holiday. Let’s see if the Bobcats will be spending it in a good mood or not as we break down and predict each game:
1. 12/3 – vs. Portland Trail Blazers (Loss)
Portland is inconsistent, but they’re bigger and stronger than Charlotte. This one could get messy at home.
2. 12/5 – vs. New York Knicks (Loss)
New York has struggled on the road a bit, but they shouldn’t in this one. They spread out the floor with the best of them and can hurt you inside and out. Their offense will simply be too much for the Bobcats in this one, as they start December 0-2.
3. 12/7 – @ Milwaukee Bucks (Win)
They’ve beaten Milwaukee before and the Bucks are a pretty inconsistent team. Charlotte can bang down low with them and they matchup well at the guard spots. It’ll be close, but I think the Bobcats get their first win of the Christmas season here.
4. 12/8 – vs. San Antonio Spurs (Loss)
San Antonio is a title contender. Charlotte can keep it close for a while, but eventually the Spurs should pull away and close it out.
5. 12/10 – vs. Golden State Warriors (Win)
Charlotte can matchup with the Warriors, who can be really off at times and sometimes fall into defensive lulls. So do the Bobcats, but I’ll give them a chance at home against a team they can beat.
6. 12/12 – vs. Los Angeles Clippers (Loss)
The Clippers are too tough and deep for Charlotte to handle. I wouldn’t expect this one to be all that close.
7. 12/13 – @ Atlanta Hawks (Win)
Charlotte knows Atlanta and they’ve played them close this year. Down 2-0 in the season series, I think they get a big confidence booster on the road in this one.
8. 12/15 – vs. Orlando Magic (Win)
Orlando is a pretty well balanced squad, but they lack superstar players and are very inconsistent. Charlotte has a great chance to try to build a winning streak here at home.
9. 12/18 – @ Los Angeles Lakers (Loss)
Unfortunately, if they do get on that two game roll, they’ll see the run end on the road against the Lakers. Los Angeles has their issues, but I don’t see them dropping this one at home.
10. 12/19 – @ Phoenix Suns (Win)
Charlotte hung with Phoenix pretty well the first time they faced, so I think they have a shot at running with them and getting the win. I know it’s on the road, but the Suns have been all over the place with their lineups, so at least Charlotte is unified and should have better chemistry.
11. 12/21 – @ Golden State Warriors (Loss)
I’ll give it to the Bobcats at home in the first meeting, but not in round two on the road. Golden State is talented and improving, so they won’t drop two straight to the Bobcats.
12. 12/22 – @ Denver Nuggets (Loss)
Denver is a pretty deep team that plays well on both ends most of the time. Charlotte can compete with them, but Denver should tire them out at home.
13. 12/26 – vs. Miami Heat (Loss)
Charlotte can rise to the occasion at times, but I’m not banking on this one being very close. The Beatles hand Charlotte their third straight loss.
14. 12/28 – @ Brooklyn Nets (Loss)
Brooklyn isn’t Miami, but they’re very balanced and just too talented for the Bobcats. They’re on a mission and at home, too.
15. 12/29 – vs. New Orleans Hornets (Win)
Even with Anthony Davis likely in tow, this is a game for Charlotte to win. The Hornets can be pretty competitive, but they’re so young and inconsistent. It’s a toss-up, but at home I love the Bobcats.
16. 12/31 – @ Chicago Bulls (Loss)
This is another one Charlotte has a good chance at, but Chicago generally plays solid defense and team basketball. I expect a close game, but the home team should prevail.
A much tougher schedule, including a four-game road trip, should have the Bobcats staying well under .500 when December is up. I still think the first month of the season showed us our real Bobcats. Mike Dunlap is a nice find as a rookie head coach, and the team’s guard play is for real. The return of Gerald Henderson could help that even improve, as well.
However, ultimately, the schedule should prove to be too difficult. Charlotte competes and has shown an ability to change their identity to mirror their opponent, so they should field plenty of competitive games and I won’t be shocked to be off by a couple of games. But this time I’m aiming a little lower due to the difficulty I see on paper. With all things considered, if Charlotte escaped the month at 6-10, they’d be 13 and 18 heading into January. That’s not that bad when you think of where they were at last year.