Charlotte Bobcats @ Philly 11/17/09
This game pretty much makes it official: The Bobcats are Terrible. Coming into the game at 4-6 with a -5 point differential, the Philadelphia 76ers seemed to be playing at the same pedestrian level as Charlotte but we now know that the true pecking order would have the ‘Cats somewhere firmly beneath mediocre and slightly above The Meadowlands’ Finest. Sixers win it 86-84 on a Lou Williams fast break layup with 3.1 seconds remaining. AP recap here. Box score here.
1. If This is Playing the Game The Right Way, Sign Me Up for The Wrong Way
I’m gonna hand it to fellow Baseline contributor Dr. E. He was wary of Larry Brown from the start but I stayed optimistic and was hoping that the old man could turn the franchise around. The Bobcats committed 16 more turnovers in tonight’s game and shot 42.3% from the field. For those of you scoring at home, that’s 2.3% HIGHER than their season average of 40%, good for 29th in the League. What if this poor performance isn’t a testament to the quality of the players on the court but, rather, to the antiquated coaching strategy of its leader? We must face the possibility that the game has passed Larry Brown by and his insistence on “Playing the Game the Right Way” is really code for “Playing the Game the Way a 69-Year Old Man Thinks it Should Be Played.” The Bobcats are forced into several HORRENDOUS shots simply because Brown demands that they hold the ball for 20 seconds of the shot clock and then force something up with time expiring. Most players playing in today’s game simply aren’t used to a style of offense such as Brown’s and by passing up good shots with time left on the clock two MAJOR FLAWS in the Strategy reveal themselves:
- Players get used to passing up good shots and start intellectualizing their games instead of letting it flow naturally.
- The opposing team’s defense can pretty much coast for the first 15 seconds of the shot clock, knowing that Brown will chastise any player bold enough to shoot early.
Coach Brown’s goal is to slow down the game’s pace to prevent the other team from scoring. It’s like when NFL teams play the Colts. You know that if Peyton Manning is on the field, chances are that he’s going to put his team into scoring position so you remove him from the equation by keeping Peyton on the sidelines with a grind-it-out running attack on offense. Tire the defense out during each drive, rinse and repeat. Pretty basic stuff. The problem with Larry Brown’s strategy is that the NBA isn’t divided into the ground game and the passing game so by holding onto the ball and grinding out the clock you are basically just constipating all of your players’ offensive (especially the younger players still growing into their games) at the expense of playing SLOW, BORING basketball. And, ultimately, the only way you can win any game is by scoring points. Brown seems to have forgotten that.
2. Short Endomorphs Who Can’t Shoot Don’t Make Great PGs
With Tyson Chandler sidelined during the 2nd half with a strained back, the Bobcats went small with Boris Diaw at center and Gerald Wallace at the four. During most of this time Brown played D.J. Augustin and Raymond Felton in the same backcourt as he did for much of last season. After Lou Williams beat D.J. on the block for the tenth time and Raymond over-complicated yet another simple pass, I caught a shot of Sixer backup guard Willie Green and it suddenly dawned on me why the Bobcats PG situation is in such disarray. Green has a very similar body build to Felton: stocky with short arms. And, like Felton, Willie can’t shoot (he’s a career 41% from the floor). This is the fatal flaw with Felton and, at least thus far this season, with Augustin. You can be an undersized PG and be successful in the NBA but you can’t be both undersized and a poor shooter, especially with a short wingspan. The Bobcats simply can’t afford to have two guys like this on their roster and I would think that it’s A GIVEN that one of them will be TRADED between now and the deadline. Especially now that the team has Acie Law on the bench who’s both taller and a better shooter.
3. The Stephen Jackson Thing Might Work Out After All
Watching non-Captain Jack hit shot after shot during the Bobcats improbable 4th quarter 14-4 rally reminded me of his value to the team. No, not as a major cog to build around but rather as a player who could potentially be VERY VALUABLE on the open market around the trade deadline either this year or next. Jackson can play. He’s not a clutch-time shot maker (see 82games.com’s Clutch Player stats, JAX is below Felton on the list. Ouch.) but going for 26 pts, 5 asts and 5 boards on 9-21 shooting is something that a lot of contending team’s could use at the SF spot come Playoff time. I could definitely see Jackson shipped out in a deal that brought instant cap relief, draft selections and/or prospects once Larry Brown’s had a few months to re-polish the volatile forward’s image.
Bobcats lose a close one to a team they should beat if they ever want to sniff the Playoffs. Milwaukee and superstar in the making Brandon Jennings up next on Friday Night. Hang in there Bobcats fans.