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They're On Their Way

Mar 28, 2014 -- 1:00am

        “We’re on our way,” said coach Steve Clifford following the win over the Brooklyn Nets 116-111 Wednesday night.

        Charlotte is 35-37 currently seventh in the Eastern Conference, three and a half games above Atlanta who’s eighth, and one and half games behind Washington who sits sixth.

         “We have to move up,” Anthony Tolliver said. “We can’t get bounced in the first round.” Were the words exchanged in a conversation among Tolliver, Cody Zeller and Chris Douglas-Roberts following the lost to Houston Monday night once Zeller revealed that the Bobcats were seventh in the East. If you aren’t aware of playoff seeding the seventh seed plays the second seed, meaning if with the playoffs were to begin today the Bobcats would face the Miami Heat.

        With 10 games remaining in the regular season the opportunity presents itself for the Bobcats to move up to the sixth seed.  Charlotte’s next three games are all against winnable opponents, starting tonight in Orlando, Washington on Monday and Philadelphia on Wednesday. The Bobcats should win all three, with the most important one coming Monday night inside of Time Warner Cable Arena.

        For those who haven’t been paying attention, since the All-Star Break Charlotte is 12-7, and 8-4 over the course of their previous12 games.

        This may not seem like much to the causal NBA fan due to the past history of the Bobcats, but last season Charlotte only won 21 games they’ve surpassed that win total by 14 games with 10 games still remaining on the schedule. I’d like to credit the additions of coach Clifford and Al Jefferson for the increase in the win column.

        For the Bobcats to win a series in the playoffs they would have to move up to the sixth seed to play the Toronto Raptors, even that wouldn’t be a guarantee, but their chances of advancing would be much higher if they faced Toronto rather Indiana or Miami. Though Charlotte is not being a supremely talented team, they play excellent defense in combination with Jefferson who has been playing out of him mind, neither the Pacers or Heat would like to play the Bobcats in the first round. Specifically Indiana rather Miami, Charlotte's style of play matches up well against the Pacers,with the Bobcats earning the victory the last time the two played.

        It’s not always about who’s the best team, but who’s playing their best basketball come playoff time, and the Bobcats have been playing their best basketball at the right time.

        The workings of coach Clifford?

        Charlotte is the best in the NBA at not turning the ball over averaging only 11.7 turnovers a game.      

        Is it too early to throw coach Clifford into the conversation for coach of the year?

 

Justin Tyree

ESPN 730 Charlotte Bobcats Insider and Blogger

Twitter:  @JTyree704

Facebook:  www.Facebook.com/SportsFromMyEyes

 

Have You Taken Notice?

Mar 12, 2014 -- 12:49pm
       
        You won’t find the Charlotte Bobcats as a topic on ESPN’s widely popular debate show First Take or even receiving a brief mention on Colin Cowherd’s The Herd, but what you will find is a well written piece by Bleacher Report’s Jarden Zwerling on “Inside the Coaching Principles That Turned Around the Charlotte Bobcats."
 
        Scott Van Pelt recently joined the party having Al Jefferson on his radio show SVP & Russillo Tuesday afternoon.
 
        The question is have you noticed that the Bobcats are moving in the right direction?
 
        If you haven’t the Charlotte Bobcats are 30-34 sitting seventh in the Eastern Conference. The chances are that Charlotte will likely play the Miami Heat getting swept in the first round, but that’s not a problem, what should be receiving recognition is what got them to this point. Just two seasons ago the Bobcats were the laughing stock of the league at 7-59 holding the NBA’s worst winning percentage, but a roster with many of the same players is not the same team.
 
        I have three names for you: Rich Cho, Steve Clifford and Al Jefferson.
 
        It would be disrespectful to mention Mike Dunlap who led Charlotte to 21 wins last season, 14 wins better than the season before, but the players weren’t in favor of Dunlap meaning a change had to be made.
 
        Together Bobcats GM Rich Cho and President of Basketball Operations Rod Higgins went out on a search to find Charlotte’s next head coach, and they came back with Clifford serving as a long time NBA assistant.
 
        One more step was needed, landing a guy that could demand a double team, and score when a bucket was needed, Al Jefferson was brought in.
 
        The three together landed the Bobcats in a playoff push.
 
        Clifford should win the NBA’s Coach of The Year, coaching the Bobcats with the fifth best defensive team in the league. At this point in the season with less than 20 games remaining in the season is Jefferson averaging 21 points and 10 rebounds per game, with 11 games of 30 plus scoring performances and one 40 point game.
 
        Do you think Charlotte is just content with “attempting” to make a playoff push?
 
        No, just before the trade deadline the Bobcats brought in sharp shooter Gary Neal from the Milwaukee Bucks. In the seven games Neal has played in Charlotte’s he’s averaging 12 points shooting 40 percent from three, allowing the Bobcats to add some much needed floor spacing.
 
        Just two seasons again the Bobcats were 7-59 today they’re 30-34. I told people the goal for Charlotte in the win column should be 30 wins, they’ve met that mark. My prediction would be that they could win 34 games with a max of 41 people laughed, but they aren’t too far off the paste of 34 wins.
 
        On Oct. 28th I told you Charlotte your time is coming.
 
        Do you believe me now?
 
 
Justin Tyree
 
ESPN 730 Charlotte Bobcats Insider and Blogger
 
Twitter:  @JTyree704
 
Facebook:  www.Facebook.com/SportsFromMyEyes

Playing with Expectation

Feb 09, 2014 -- 7:39pm
       
        It's great to know that the Bobcats would be in the playoffs if the regular season ended today.
 
        As we exit the all-star break, Charlotte is in unfamiliar territory. The Bobcats will now be playing with expectations.
 
        When's the last time you've had expectations for Charlotte that doesn't involved losing? I know it's been a long time.
 
        So far throughout the first half of the season the Bobcats have hovered around the sixth through eight seeds in the Eastern Conference. The Detroit Pistons with the firing of Maurice Cheeks aren't looking too good despite being only a half game out of the eighth seed, in combination with the inconsistency of the New York Knicks, all signs point to Charlotte to secure the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference.
 
        In the three-team race, the Bobcats hold the upper hand, but there's still a good amount of basketball to be played.
 
        How will Charlotte deal with the expectation of winning?
 
        That's a question that hasn't been familiar during the tenure of the franchise. It's easy to win when you aren't expected to, but when you are expected to that's another ball game in itself. 
 
        The Bobcats three major contributors of Al Jefferson, Kemba Walker and Gerald Henderson are without playoff experience. Collecting a check for getting paid to do what you love is great, but losing gets old quick. Walker has all the belief in the world that his team can make the playoffs.
 
        “We go out each night with the mindset we can make the playoffs. We practice like we can make the playoffs," Walker said.
 
        With 29 games remaining on the schedule, 14 of the teams Charlotte will face are currently outside of the top-eight seeds needed to make the playoffs. 
 
        At the beginning of the season nobody believe the Bobcats would make the playoffs, but with the poor basketball being played in the Eastern Conference Charlotte has a legitimate shot to make the playoffs. The Bobcats won’t receive national attention, but within the state and surrounding areas there is now an expectation surrounding the Bobcats, let’s see how they happen playing with expectation.
 
        What will be the conversation in a month? That the Bobcats took advantage of a bad Eastern Conference? Or how the Bobcats let a playoff spot slip away? The month of February will tell us everything we need to know.
 
        The Bobcats first two games out of the break will be against the Pistons in a back-to-back.
 
 
Justin Tyree
 
ESPN 730 Charlotte Bobcats Insider and Blogger
 
Twitter:  @JTyree704
 
Facebook:  www.Facebook.com/SportsFromMyEyes 
 

Bobcats Lack Of Will Leads To Defeat

Jan 07, 2014 -- 9:40pm

        You can score points, but in order to cut into a deficit you have to get stops. In the third quarter the Wizards went on a 17-0 run, that was ultimately the difference in the game.

        Charlotte tried to make it interesting, but in the end it wasn’t enough, falling to the Washington Wizards 97-83.

        In order for the Bobcats to keep their playoff hopes alive, they must to take care of the winnable games on the schedule.

        Tuesday night Charlotte did not take care of business against the Washington, Gerald Henderson showed up, but I don’t know if the rest of his teammates did. Henderson finished with 27 points in the defeat.

         Kemba Walker came on late with 19 points and eight assists, but the eight turnovers is the most troubling of all. When your point guard commits eight turnovers the odds aren’t in your favor to have a chance to win.

        When you pay a guy $41.5 million dollars you expect to get their best effort night in and night out, but Tuesday night Al Jefferson was nowhere to be found finishing with six points, the only positive on the night for Jefferson was the 10 rebounds.

        “They were more physical then we were, and that was the difference in the game,” Coach Clifford’s thoughts following the defeat. “It comes down to the will, to the fight, to the mental toughness how badly do you want it, it’s as simple as that.”

        In the NBA you are going to lose games, but the way you lose is what you focus on in the defeat. The Bobcats came out flat for the start, I know it’s a Tuesday night game against the Wizards, but you still have to show up to play. It’s easy to get up against the Lakers or Heat any team can do that, but what separate the good from average teams is taking care of business when the big name is not on the schedule.

        Charlotte just didn’t show up to play, they tried to make small runs, but in the end they just didn’t play well enough to win. The Bobcats gave up 28 points in the paint, and lost the rebounding battle 46-38. Coach Clifford said earlier in the year that in order for the Bobcats to win games, they must win the rebounding battle. They lost the battle on the boards resulting in a defeat, the third best defense in the NBA did not show up to play.

 

Justin Tyree

ESPN 730 Charlotte Bobcats Insider and Blogger

Twitter:  @JTyree704

Facebook:  www.Facebook.com/SportsFromMyEyes 

How Will Walker Fair Against Wall?

Jan 07, 2014 -- 12:18pm

        Saturday night the Charlotte Bobcats ended their five-game losing skid, capping of their west coast swing with a win defeating the Sacramento Kings 113-103, behind 30 points on 63 percent shooting from Kemba Walker.

        The Bobcats won the season series against the Kings 2-0.

        Tuesday night Charlotte will host the Washington Wizards, in a game that should be interesting a battle of young emerging point guards in the NBA between Walker and John Wall. The two point guards have been playing well this season despite their ball clubs being under .500 in the winning column.

        As for Walker, he’s coming off of his best month of his career in December averaging 21.5 points and 5.4 assists. Over the course of that month he took high percentage shots shooting the ball nearly 46 percent from the field. In combination with the better shot selection, he also had his best month as a point guard getting his teammates involved with that average of 5.4 assists.

        In November, Wall stated that he was the best point guard in the NBA, and backed that up in the month of December by averaging 21.7 points and 9.1 assists. On the season, he ranks third among point guard averaging 8.8 assists per game, and fourth in scoring averaging 19.9 points per game. His performance over the course of this season, has earned the right for his name to be brought up among the best point guards the NBA has to offer.

        Both ball clubs are under .500 with the Bobcats at 15-20 and the Wizards at 14-16, it might not be the best basketball you've ever watched, but I can ensure you that the battle between Walker and Wall will be a good one.

        How will Wallker fair against Wall?
 
 
Justin Tyree
 
ESPN 730 Charlotte Bobcats Insider and Blogger
 
Twitter:  @JTyree704
 
Facebook:  www.Facebook.com/SportsFromMyEyes

The Good Look That Didn't Fall

Dec 27, 2013 -- 9:22pm

        The Bobcats have come back from deficits of at least 16 points to win three of their last four games, but the Oklahoma City is a team that is unlikely to blow a double-digit lead.

        Despite Oklahoma City being without point guard Russell Westbrook, you still have to account for Kevin Durant.  The Thunder are 11-2 when Durant scores 30 points or more, with Anthony Tolliver drawing the assignment of Durant.

        At the end of the first half Charlotte trailed Oklahoma City 42-36, with the Thunder going on a 12-0 run to end the half.

        Outside of the 12-0 run, the first half was a defensive battle. Both teams shot 36 percent, with the Thunder winning the battle of the boards 26-24. What broke the half up was the difference from the shooting behind the arc. Charlotte with 4-4 from three, but Oklahoma made 9-16. Without the three-pointer differential the half would have been identical.

        Charlotte did not get off to a good start to the third quarter, getting down 52-39, within the first four minutes of the quarter. Two minutes later, the Bobcats got their act together cutting the deficit to one.  Charlotte closed the quarter strong only trailing Oklahoma city 62-60.

        How will this game end? Oklahoma City pulls away or does Charlotte pull up the upset.

        With 49 seconds remaining in regulation the Bobcats cut the deficit to 86-83. With Oklahoma City having possession you knew Durant was getting the ball, with a stop you have a chance to tie the game.

        Durant miss fires on a 19-footer, and just like that Charlotte had the ball with 19.4 seconds remaining.

        The Bobcats went for the quick two, making Reggie Jackson earn two from the line, he split the two.

        10.7 seconds and Charlotte has the ball, and wide open from the three-point line Josh McRoberts leaves it short. You couldn’t have asked for a better look.

        Kevin Durant finished with 34 points and 12 rebounds, pushing Oklahoma to 12-2 when he scores over 30 or more points.

        The Bobcats aren't there just yet, but they showed tonight they can play with the top tier teams in the NBA. In the end the Bobcats fall to the Thunder 89-85.

 

Justin Tyree

ESPN 730 Charlotte Bobcats Insider and Blogger

Twitter:  @JTyree704

Facebook:  www.Facebook.com/SportsFromMyEyes

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