“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?
ESPN 730 Charlotte Bobcats Insider and Blogger
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.
ESPN 730 Charlotte Bobcats Insider and Blogger
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.