REMINDER: If you're going to the game, please take a photo of the view from your seat right at tip.
Pump Up Music: Petey Pablo -- "Raise Up"
The Big Picture: The cliche is that an NBA playoff series doesn't really begin until a home team loses. When you think about it, that doesn't make much sense, because if the Bobcats lose tonight, the series will essentially be over, the odds of a Cats series victory as long as can be.
In the first two games, the Orlando Magic thoroughly outplayed Charlotte. However, it's hardly a given that they'll roll through Game 3. For one, the Cats were a completely different team at home during the regular season. For two, the Bobcats' defense was so good during the season that, at least once they have to stymie the Magic while piling up higher than average offensive numbers in the same game.
Key to Victory: The Official Englishman Friend of Rufus on Fire has lived in Charlotte since he was 14 years old, and he's possibly the biggest Panthers fan in existence. Yesterday, he articulated something that's been mentioned here before, but I don't think has gotten much play, because there's a tendency for fans to defer to success, even if that success results from demonstrably poor process. Here's what the Official Englishman said, paraphrased: Boris Diaw should come off the bench, and Tyrus Thomas and Tyson Chandler should get the lion's share of front court minutes.
This is hardly an original thought. My initial reaction was that we'd be compromising some offense for even more defense if we went that way; at what point is the defense good enough that we run into the problem of diminishing returns when we try to improve it? Also, wouldn't there be an issue with hurting people's feelings that could spill onto the court?
A helpful analogy is the video game. In a video game, you, as coach, make decisions based on talent and how those talents mesh, not on how those players feel about your decisions. If feelings weren't a part of it, might we have seen Tyrus Thomas starting by now? Imagine having to figure out how to score on a lineup of Raymond Felton, Stephen Jackson, Gerald Wallace, Thomas, and Chandler. Four of those guys are long, even for their positions. All of them can jump. All can run the floor. All are plus on-ball and help defenders. It'd be a nightmare for the opposition. On paper. If a change were instituted now, LB would run the risk of alienating his guys.
So here's hoping LB sees the wisdom of sending an energetic firecracker at Rashard Lewis, who's dealing with a bum ankle. Diaw can keep most of his minutes, but to stretch Lewis physically, that's a job for Thomas.
Detail That May Interest .08% of You: The current mayor of Orlando was accused of election fraud in 2004 and indicted, though later he was reinstated as mayor after the charges were dropped.