The Playoffs Are In View; Beat the Lakers

The Official Girlfriend of Rufus on Fire really likes Adam Morrison. Really likes him. To the point that I'm a little afraid to remind her that he'll be back in town on the Lakers bench tonight.

Her basketball IQ isn't what we'd call genius level, but she knows enough to talk fluently about which guys are generally better than others, and she knew Morrison wasn't playing well enough to warrant regular playing time.

But that doesn't matter. To play amateur psychologist, she's a grade school teacher, so I think those caring instincts kicked in when it came to AmMo. He was appealing, the way he grew his hair into an ugly long mess. The way he buzzed it down like a teenager eager to please. The way he tried his damndest, and then wore a wounded expression when the game got away from him.

It all came to a peak for the Official GF when we sat behind the scorer's table for a game back in the early part of the season. The Bobcats throw t-shirts into the crowd when they run out onto the floor for pregame layup lines, and she mentioned that it would be uber-kewl if Adam Morrison threw a t-shirt to her. So, of course, out come the Cats, and she stands up, screaming "Adam! Adam! Adaaaaaaaaaaaaam!" He looks up, a little bemused, a little frightened, points to her, and tosses the balled up shirt.

===

I'm sure if you're reading this, you're likely at least somewhat invested in the Charlotte Bobcats making the playoffs. But your reason for wanting that outcome is not the only one. Maybe you see NBA games as a big costume party. Maybe you don't care for the Bobcats, particularly, but you like seeing high quality basketball. Maybe you're in this thing for Charlotte pride, and somewhere deep inside you believe that making the NBA Finals would be another step to making the city Big League, after the Carolina Panthers playing in the Super Bowl.

The Official GF is in it partly because it's something for us to share, but mainly because it's a concrete example of people working, striving, and succeeding or failing. Adam Morrison was a cog in that machine, and he was failing. It was painful for me because he was making the machine sputter, but it was painful for her mostly because a clearly bright young dude was, himself, in pain.

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There isn't much I can add about the Lakers that hasn't been said already. They're a devastating group of guys who can cut apart their opponents in a variety of ways. The Cavaliers will be able to match their sheer skill and breadth of abilities, but they're probably the only team in the league that can do that.

At least Charlotte matches up reasonably well. Kobe and Raja are old nemeses.

They still haven't handed the keys to Jordan Farmar, so Derek Fisher is starting. He's not much of a penetrator, so he won't cause too much of an issue for Raymond. Ariza starts at the three and is wildly athletic, but isn't that exactly how we describe Gerald? Odom, at the four, is a souped up version of Diaw. And Emeka might have trouble with Pau to the extent that Gasol draws Okafor off the block and runs the floor. Okafor's a great banger, but he's made huge strides to develop a fifteen foot game this year and has also gotten a lot better at defending farther from the basket.

The Bobcats' biggest challenge will be dealing with the Lakers' reserves. Farmar, Luke Walton, Sasha Vujacic, Josh Powell, and even DJ Mbenga, provide a deep well of reserves for Phil Jackson to draw upon. And if the Zen Master wants to push the tempo even higher, he's got old friend Shannon Brown to strap on the flubber shoes.

Really, AmMo's the odd man out, the guy who's role in the rotation is "Lets Vujacic have a blow".

I mean, we could play the starters 45 minutes each and take our chances with a gassed roster tomorrow night against a hobbling Celtics squad. If you play every game in a vaccuum without regard for tomorrow, that's the strategy, with Augustin subbed in a bit more liberally for Felton.

In practice, though, we'll likely see the same tight eight man rotation we've seen the past few weeks: Augustin and RadMan will get their set minutes, Diop will spell Okafor, with opportunity for more burn if he plays well on D. No one else will sniff the floor, unless it's garbage time and the crowd can cheer Sean May--half of them sarcastically in response to two wasted seasons, half of them sincerely in the belief that every Tar Heel deserves cheers.

Cartier Martin, Juwan Howard, and Nazr Mohammed? Get ready for the Celtics. We'll need you for spot duty tomorrow.

===

When will Dontell Jefferson play? Isn't this a prime opportunity to activate him? We're not going to need Mohammed against a team that's relatively thin at center, so activate the guy with a reputation for excellent on ball perimeter defense.

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