Was it good for you, too?
When it seems things are turning our way during periods of difficulty, my friends and I have a phrase: "Winston Wolfe still applies." If you've seen Pulp Fiction, you know the reference is to a moment just after Jules and Vincent have cleaned the car, and The Wolf is telling them that the job isn't done, and the ordeal isn't over. I believe Bill Simmons rendered the line as, "Well, let's not start sucking each other's [lollipops] quite yet."
Winston Wolfe applies to the Bobcats' season right now. At 3-5, the Cats have beaten the Heat at home, which they were supposed to do, and they've knocked off the Hornets and Jazz, both also at home, and the Jazz were without three of their four best players.
The schedule, viewable on the bottom of the right sidebar via the Schmap widget, is home-heavy early in the season, and stacked with road trips in the second half. After the All Star break, they have 18 games on the road and only 12 at home. Therefore, the winning better come now or else there will be no holding off other playoff contenders at the end of the season.
While stealing a couple wins from title contenders like the Hornets and Jazz is encouraging, there's still no real indication the Bobcats will be able to break .500, let alone the 35-win barrier. Is Adam Morrison really better than he was his rookie season? Does he bring more to the table than Matt Carroll? Is Alexis Ajinca better than Jermareo Davidson? Or Ryan Hollins?
Through eight games, there are one thing I've seen that give me hope that the team is significantly better than they were last season: Larry Brown's changes in strategy and general coaching. The offense is a real NBA system. It doesn't put the ball in Emeka's hands at the elbow and ask him to pass or score from there, as Sam Vincent wanted. The free throw shooting is better. The defense is more focused. On both ends of the floor, the team has a discernible goal and strategy.
The thing is, the players are still the same ones we had last year, and in most cases, they're not going to be better than they were last year. Morrison might bring more than Carroll off the bench. Augustin is clearly better than McInnis, even after accounting for defense. But four starters are the same, and the fifth guy was the fifth best last season and is fifth best this year. Do the marginal upgrades amount to five more wins on the season? It's doubtful.