Opening Statements: Wizards vs Bobcats, Game 78
Playoff implications? Playoff implications.
The Internets are right. This is a very big basketball game tonight between those Wizards and those Bobcats. Playoff implications out the kitty litter box and up the wizard sleeve.
Washington, currently holding the 6 seed in the East, sits a game above the Bobcats and the 7 seed (and a game above having to face either Miami or Indiana in the first round). Sure, Indy is struggling, but it’s inane to think that the Wizards would rather face them as the 7 seed instead of the inexperienced Raptors or the Rose-less, offensively challenged Bulls as the 3 seed.
If the Wizards win, they will jump from their current 72 percent chance of locking down the 6 seed to a 94 percent chance. But if they lose to Charlotte, Washington’s chances at the 6 seed drop to 40 percent. This game is big.
And yet, it could be forgotten about tomorrow. Sure, a loss would have consequences now, but would it be any different for future hindsight than bad losses to the Bucks, Celtics, or Kings? Or conversely, would a win be any more major than big wins earlier this season against Miami, Indiana, Portland, or Oklahoma City?
Of course right now this game is bigger than the past because it is in the future. Either way, however, the Wizards are in the playoffs, and win or lose, their work is still cut out for them.
Teams: Wizards vs Bobcats
Time: 7:00 p.m. ET
Venue: Verizon Center, Washington, DC
Radio: WFED-AM 1500/THE FAN-FM 106.7
Spread: Wizards favored by 5.5 points.
Wizards tickets … anyone?
Click to get them served up for cheap via TiqIQ and TAI.
Q #1: When heads hit pillows on the evening of Sunday, Jan. 6, 2013, the Wizards and the Bobcats had a combined record of 13-52. While Charlotte finished last season 12-37, the Wizards finished 25-25.
Today, one game separates these two teams near the bottom of the Eastern Conference (Wiz at 6, ‘Cats at 7), and they are ranked 15th and 16th in the NBA overall.
The two hapless franchises have come so far and yet have so far to go. Talk about the vision quest that you and the Bobcats have been on over the last one year, three months and three days, and upon the back of which spirit animal has this quest ridden?
@CardboardGerald: Woo. Hah, uh, well it’s been quite the ride. I detailed it a bit in a recent post but to summarize, It’s been pretty fun to watch the Bobcats make smart moves and not sacrifice much of their future for it. Their offseason signings have been smart and they still have cap size and draft picks to work with. With all that intact, they’ve got a great coach who’s maximized the talent on the roster and helped the franchise make great leaps to a more consistently competitive future. I really can’t say enough about how much fun this season’s been. It’s had its ups and downs, but the one thing a small market underdog team always has going for it is fun in surprising people. The Bobcats haven’t had many blowout losses this year, have been fighting hard every night and have worked their way into the playoffs.
As for a spirit animal? Well, assuming I can’t use a bobcat, so it’d probably have to be a rabbit. I dunno, I just like rabbits. Sure, they take some little poops sometimes—it happens—but they’re generally very cute, fun to watch hop around and great to be around.
Q #2: What would you paint with the Al Jefferson Paint Bucket if you had one? (And what are his actual chances of making one of the All-NBA teams?)
@CardboardGerald: I would paint my car. It’s 27 years old and could use a new lease on life. I don’t have a house or really anything else I could paint, but it’s as good an option as any. As far as his chances for an All-NBA team go, I’d say there’s not a good chance he’ll make the first team, but given how strong he’s been since the middle of December or so, I think he’s got a solid shot at the second or third team. His main competition at center is Dwight Howard, DeMarcus Cousins and Joakim Noah. You can go ahead and set aside Cousins’ name since the Kings have done so poorly, but I think Jefferson’s in that top three group. He’s averaging over 20 points and 10 rebounds a game on a top-10 defense for a team that’s made a stunning turnaround. The chances are pretty good.
Q #3: The Bobcats field the sixth-lowest team DefRtg in the NBA (101.2). Last season it was the highest in the league (108.9). To what/whom do you most attribute this drastic improvement?
@CardboardGerald: Bobcats coach Steve Clifford should get most of the credit. His defensive schemes have done terrific work forcing opponents into midrange shots while hiding Al Jefferson’s notorious defensive weaknesses. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist deserves a fair amount of credit for being the defense’s centerpiece but Clifford has been the man to solve the puzzle. They don’t make a lot of gambles but they make smart decisions in closing out and playing solid team defense and it shows.
Q #4: Why on Larry Sanders’ green earth is Jannero Pargo still on an NBA roster? Have you ever found yourself in the crossfire of his Twitter searches of his name and subsequent ‘outreach’? And be honest, how many times have you fallen down Pargo’s ‘Basketball Wives’ rabbit hole?
@CardboardGerald: Oh man, I have not, to either of those—which is a little surprising, because I’ve tweeted ‘FREE PARGO’ or whatever without any response. I think I tweeted him to see if he wanted to go to the 2 Chainz and Pusha-T concert and never heard back. Maybe he just doesn’t like me. As for his NBA legitimacy, he’s mostly just a garbage-time shooter/ballhandler/whatever for Charlotte. They haven’t needed him much but, hey, he’s no Cory Higgins.
Q #5: Rank the Bobcats in the order of “Man, that dude is country.”
Josh McRoberts – I know, I know. But he seems so Dave Grohl to me that he can’t be country
Chris Douglas-Roberts – Funky hair, not there
Kemba Walker – Just don’t see it
Jannero Pargo – I don’t know what his personality is but I don’t think it’s country
Gerald Henderson – ehhhhhhhhhhh
Gary Neal – he played for the Spurs but doesn’t anymore
Jeffery Taylor – He’s Swedish, and I don’t know if that bodes well for being country or not so I’ll put him in the middle
Luke Ridnour – Is whole grain bread country? I don’t know.
Anthony Tolliver – He’s a wholesome feller. I think he might be a little bit country
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist – College ball in Kentucky, yeah MKG can do the country life
Bismack Biyombo – Coming out of the Congo, Bismack has absorbed American culture as an outsider. I think he’d be open to America’s diverse tastes and enjoy some part of the country life.
Cody Zeller – awww yeeeeee this here’s a country boy
Al Jefferson – a Mississippi man born and bred, Big Al is country through and through
Q #6: Future Bobcat Rankings… Rank the Top 4 cats who you think will be on the team two years from now (after 2015-16).
@CardboardGerald: After 2015-16, the Bobcats don’t have anyone under contract yet so it’s difficult to say. It depends a lot on how much of their money is tied up in extensions with Walker and other folks and if they have the talent that would allow them to move away from a heftier deal with Al Jefferson. It’s difficult to say at this point but the top four, depending on what happens, would be Kemba Walker, Cody Zeller, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Al Jefferson. I think Gerald Henderson moves on, it’s hard to say what Jeff Taylor looks like when he returns, and who knows who they’ll draft or how they’ll turn out.
Q #7: This game on Wednesday is pretty big… How big is it?
@CardboardGerald: It’s as big as the Gravedigger’s monster truck.