Despite 0-2 deficit, Bobcats still believe

By Lang Whitaker, NBA.com


VIDEO: Heat hold off Bobcats’ late rally to take 2-0 series lead

MIAMI – With 3:03 left to play in the first quarter of Game 2 between Miami and Charlotte, Bobcats coach Steve Clifford walked slowly up the Charlotte sideline from the bench toward halfcourt. His arms were folded, his head angled toward the court. If the floor were made out of dirt, he might have kicked it at that moment.

It wasn’t just that the Heat were up 18-13 at the time, but that they were in the middle of a 10-0 run at the time, and the Bobcats weren’t doing much to abate Miami’s progress. Moments later, Al Jefferson would head for the locker room for treatment on a foot injury that left him laboring up and down the court like his shoelaces were tied together. The Heat compiled a 16-6 run to end the first quarter. For the period, the Bobcats had just one assist imbalanced against six turnovers. Kemba Walker’s first points came with 6 minutes to play in the first half. By halftime, the Bobcats had rolled up 11 turnovers.

Before Game 1 of this series, Clifford talked about the importance of protecting the ball against the Miami Heat. During the regular season, the Charlotte Bobcats averaged 12.3 turnovers, the lowest rate in the NBA. During Game 1, the Bobcats piled up 15. Through the first half of Game 2, they totaled 12.

“You gotta give [Miami] credit, though,” Josh McRoberts noted. “It’s not like we were just out there throwing it around. They do a great job pressuring, trapping, playing their coverages to make it tough.”

Despite all of this, the Bobcats hung around all night, making a game out of a game that probably didn’t seem like it should have been much of a game. They protected the ball much better in the second half, adding just three more turnovers to their total. Jefferson gallantly played through the injury, though with every step the pain was painted not only on his face but across his entire body — Jefferson still logged 40 minutes and finished with 18 points and 13 boards. (“He’s a tough hombre,” said Miami coach Erik Spoelstra. “He’s a tough guy. I mean, that is not an easy thing to fight though.”)

By the end of the game, the Bobcats had the ball down three with 10 seconds left to play, but a broken play ended with a turnover and an eventual 101-97 win for Miami.

The Bobcats have looked tenacious against the Heat in spurts, but they haven’t been able to sustain that production on either end of the court. In Game 1 of the series, according to SportVU numbers, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist held LeBron to one point on 0-for-4 shooting from the field in 5:10 of matchup time. The problem was foul trouble: Kidd-Gilchrist played just 14 minutes and finished with four fouls. In Game 2, Kidd-Gilchrist played 34 minutes and scored 22 points, but even with his best efforts, LeBron finished with 32 points, eight assists and six rebounds.

After a first-round playoff knockout in 2010 at the hands of the Orlando Magic, it took the Charlotte Bobcats four seasons, dozens of players, four coaches and two general managers to get back to the postseason. And it definitely got worse before it got better — in 2011-12, the Bobcats won just .109 percent of their games, a record for futility. Two seasons later the Bobcats finished with 44 wins and a rosy outlook: The Bobcats have both youth and cap flexibility on their side. Of course, having a bright future is cold comfort when you’re down 0-2 to the defending NBA champs, and have lost 18 games in a row to the Heat.

After the game, I asked McRoberts if he could take anything positive from the loss — that even though they lost, they were within three with 10 seconds remaining.

“No.” McRoberts said. “I mean I’m sorry to do that to your question, but no, I don’t take anything positive from it. We didn’t play that well. We made too many mistakes. We played horrible in the first half. You can’t do that and expect to beat the best team. You can’t beat the championship team with that level. So no, we want to win. We were disappointed.”

“It’s just more on us,” Jefferson said of the Bobcats’ situation. “We just got to get better and stop making so many mistakes that we should know better. Time and time over again. We gave them too many turnovers, 20 points off turnovers in the first half. That’s all we gave them Game 1 and we gave that to them in the first half. We just got to slow down and just play the right way. We’re letting them get us on our heels and we just got to get better in there.”

“Honestly man, I think we’re still really confident,” Walker said. “We just have to learn from our mistakes. Our coaches do a great job at getting us prepared to play in these games and getting us prepared to win these games. We’re going to go back home, we’re going to go back to the drawing board, we’re going to dissect these guys as well as we can, and get ready for the next one. I think we have a chance, man. I know these guys are defending champs, and it’s not going to be easy. We’re trying to win these games, and like I said, I think we have a chance.”

McRoberts said he, like Walker, believes the Bobcats still have a chance in this series: “You got to, right? I mean, that’s what we play for, that’s what we’re going to try to do. I’m not coming out guaranteeing anything, but we expect to win 82 times during the season and every time in the playoffs, too. That’s the mindset you gotta play with.”

26 Comments

  1. I always spent my half an hour to read this blog’s articles everyday along with a cup of
    coffee.

  2. okc2014 says:

    Al Jefferson is a Cool Cat….

  3. I would put in the floor Oden in first quarter to make hard fouls. That is it.

  4. Kws1066 says:

    If Al was actually healthy the Cats would be up or tied in this series. He was playing like the MVP in March and early April.

  5. Faba says:

    @Majk: Hating ? finding excuses? You really taking it personel. I just imagined first round grizz vs heat or mavs (who still give nightmares to them from the finals in 2011) those matchups could easily go over 7 games.

  6. Migs says:

    heat cheat every year, easy road every year. fake injuries to rest players due to age. just so they can get rest and get ready for tough games.

    • Sim says:

      Sorry but thats not cheating in any rulebook. And they don’t “fake” anything. Maybe there is a formal reason for putting a name to Wade’s rest games but everyone knows its because they don’t wanna risk anything with their stars. And technically, one can say Wade’s knees are the reason for his rest because he has to maintain them.

      Did you know Wade had to drain his knee fluid every game during the playoffs a few years ago? That does not sound nice. I’m sure no one wants him to go through all that to just play a regular season game with any stakes. I and any other heat fan would rather see him healthy and playing in June over seeing him grind it out through the regular season just to fatigue out during the playoffs. They are championship contenders every year for 4 years now. Takes a toll on anyone.

  7. Big Al says:

    Bobcats are a sorry excuse for a playoff team. The quicker the Heat get rid of them, the better. Game 4 better be the last of that name to ever get into an NBA court.

  8. marty says:

    Didn’t know u could block a shot with a forearm.This isn’t 1988.

  9. Baller says:

    That play at the end was really dangerous right in the throat, NBA should not let that slip.

    • ApexPredator says:

      CHA believes they can win. That’s fine but realistically and statistically they don’t have enough firepower to stop MIA 4 times. The playoffs and games in general are all about momentum and MIA have the experience to stop those CHA runs. If you notice in both games CHA has taken the lead or came close to retaking but then falls short, that’s really from inexperience to keep going while MIA can turn it up when it counts most. That is similar to various teams that are championship caliber. What CHA is missing is a true closer or a star to move them to the next level (Jefferson and Walker are their best players but I don’t see them as stars) Walker is getting there.

      It is interesting that the top teams are losing right now aside from MIA. I still believe that the Nets are a threat due to experience. Don’t sleep on the Wizards, that back court of Wall and Beal is fun to watch. Even TOR (they can beat the Nets if Ross can get rolling. So far Lowry and DeRozan have been it but Ross needs to kick it up a notch.

      Oh and McRoberts will totally get fined after that non-call flagrant on LBJ. I feel the refs also should be reprimanded because if I’m correct it was under 2 minutes (maybe) forgot and replay should have been used. Not covering LBJ cause I’m not a fan of him but he does take some nasty hits from people because he gets to a position 5x faster than them. So he should get those calls. Didn’t really matter in the end since Wade got a clear path call.

      • Brooklyn will win it All! says:

        Ummmm dude that play when lebron got fouled was reviewed and besides I think they got it right because that foul was unintentional and there was not excessive contact and the rulebook clearly says a flagrant foul is for unnessecary and excessive contact. And how can u say L Jefferson is not a star? He’s clearly the best center offensively in the nba!

    • rayray says:

      you’re funny

  10. Chase says:

    Intentionally dropping to the 2 seed to get the weaker teams in the weaker conference and then Jefferson goes on to get hurt in the first game of the series to boot. Can the Heat seriously have any easier route to the finals every year? Historically every team in the East that has had a legit chance to stop them (not saying the Bobcats) has essentially had their star player go down in some form or another.
    I really question whether or not the Heat would even be in a position to 3-peat if they were in the West, let alone make 4 straight Finals.

  11. STILL BELIEVE...! says:

    Oh yes Mr. Lang, the only thing that the Bobcat can continue believing is will be swept away by the champs…

  12. James says:

    Team motivation . . . . but Heat will win the trophy.

  13. Heat Fan says:

    What about that dirty play on LeBron, that should have been a flagrant? That was a disgrace!!!

    • chris says:

      I honestly think that Lebron got to the spot before McRoberts expected him to and that is why the play ended the way it did. McRoberts was going to raise his arm to contest but ended up putting it in front of himself because he didn’t expect Lebon to be where he was that quikcly. McRoberts doesn’t have a history of these kinds of plays.

      • Kiana says:

        That’s a lie. This isn’t the first dirty play of McRoberts. Earlier in the season he also hit a player in the neck. With no call. He does it because he thinks he can get away with it. Pretty sure he’ll be suspended from game 3 and placed with a hefty fine though.

  14. Curtis Key says:

    The Cats might get one. If they don’t win game 3, it will be a sweep. No question.

  15. Faba says:

    wow… look at the western conference just so strong seeds dont matter, Heat would be lucky to make it out of the first round in the western conference…

    • Majk says:

      Yeah, Faba, you’re a real know-it-all.
      Haters will always find excuses.
      C’mon, it’s time to get serious. Heat got to the finals all 3 times over the last 3 seasons, won last 2 years … and that’s not enough? There were only a handful of teams that managed something like that. Give credit where credit is due. And enjoy the wonderful game of basketball.

    • wadefan says:

      I agree the west looks good, but the Heat have winning reconrds over almost every team in the west playoffs, no losing records and splits with the front runners like SAS and OKC. Even if they played the west there is a very good chance Miami could make it the finals, it would just be a harder fought battle.

    • Jean Luke says:

      C’mon man! Really, not make it out of the first round. You are crazy! The Heat beat on the West consistently for a 20-10 record, most of those loses came with Wade out due to the coach’s rest program to have him ready for the playoffs. They beat everybody in the West, plus sweaping the Clippers and Portland in their two games series. Yes the East might be weaker than the West as a whole conference, but don’t think for a moment that the teams in the playoffs are just cannon food, (well, other than Atlanta).

    • Martin Chiaravalloti says:

      I guess it’s a good thing the Heat are not in the Western Conference.

  16. jdub455 says:

    Believe?!? Maybe “dream” is the better term… They can always dream that they can beat the champs in this series… lol!! You aint seen the best of the heat yet!!