[Bobcats of yesteryear. Credit: TAI's Adam McGinnis]
Whether or not the Wizards win on Saturday night—and that’s TBD—something unusual already happened at Verizon Center: The Charlotte Bobcats came to town with a winning record.
How rare is that?
In 33 previous meetings between the teams, the Bobcats have entered with a winning record just three times.
There are a few reasons why the Bobcats—coming off arguably the worst season in NBA history—have been able to turn it around this year. More effective defense. Significantly better rebounding.
But a major clue could be found on the whiteboard in the visitors’ locker room tonight, under offensive keys (and I’m paraphrasing here):
Run. Push the pace and get transition baskets.
That quick-attack approach was first installed in the offseason, where coach Mike Dunlap brought a “track meet“-style regimen to team practices; it’s continued into the early season, with the Bobcats now in the league’s top 3 for pace factor.
Speed alone can’t propel a team into the playoffs, although it’s helped some younger teams start…well, fast out of the gate in years past. And the Bobcats’ roster of athletic, young players like Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Kemba Walker doesn’t look to wear down any time soon.
Still, their coach knows that things can rapidly turn around in the Association.
“I don’t trust what we’ve done so far,” Dunlap told TNT’s David Aldridge before the game. “Let’s wait and see.”