I keep waiting for the Bobcats to peak. When they dominated the Pacers, I thought that was the best this team was going to play all season. However, you could argue all the games they've played since then have been better. The Bobcats keep looking sharper as we get closer to the playoffs.
But it's no secret that the Bobcats' bench has been one of their weaknesses this season. They've given up leads, stagnated the offense, and expected the starters to come back in and save them. However, tonight they smacked around the Timberwolves' bench.
Gary Neal helped carry the Bobcats' offense with his 3-point shooting. He hit all three of his shots from deep and ended up with 19 points on 6-10 shooting. Since the All-Star Break, Cody Zeller has looked like top-5 pick he was selected with. He dunked all over the place, ran the floor, and had a Kenneth Faried kind of game. You know, the game everybody likes. Putback dunks, rebounds, and hustle plays.
Then there was Luke Ridnour, who seems to have shaken off his poor play of late. He shot a perfect 3-3 from the field and knew exactly when and where to push the ball. He was surgical out there.
While we need to give the bench the credit it deserves, we have to remember that the Wolves' bench isn't exactly feared across the NBA. You could argue it's been as bad as the Bobcats' bench this season -- or worse.
Of course, with all this bench talk you can't forget the stellar game the starters played. Al Jefferson put up 25 points, which wasn't too difficult as Nikola Pekovic was out for most of the second half with an injury. While not the best defender out there, Pek's skill on offense could have forced Jefferson to work a little harder on defense, in turn limiting his ability to be productive on the other end.
The Bobcats' defense was suffocating once again, leaving Kevin Love scoreless in the second half and not allowing him to grab a single offensive rebound. In my mind, Love has been one of the five best players in the NBA this season and to see him shut down completely like that is stunning.
I don't know how good this team can be. I know they aren't as good as Miami or Indiana, but that's all I know. I can tell you the Charlotte Bobcats are great defensively and are excellent moving the ball to create open looks on offense. What's their ceiling? Have they peaked yet? We'll just have to wait until the season's over, 'cause with every game, the Bobcats keep looking better.