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Cautious Optimism and Pragmatic Pessimism

Facial Hair

That was refreshing. To get their first win of the season, exhibition or otherwise, the Bobcats thoroughly outplayed the Heat last night. It was an example of the Cats' hitting their performance ceiling. The matchup was right, and they won just about every strategy and execution battle.

First things first. Sean May was deactivated, which could reasonably be a long term move, considering the Bobcats play better as a small, active, slashing squad. Nazr Mohammed did not play at all last night, but he wasn't needed, because the Heat's "big" men were Udonis Haslem and Mark Blount, and the likes of Andre Brown could deal with them credibly, let alone G-Force and Jared Dudley. When they need a true center on the floor at all times, say against the Rockets, Mohammed will be useful, spelling Okafor.

Speaking of Dudley, with May out, he started, guarding Michael Beasley. While Big Mike B. had a solid offensive game, hitting shot after shot from the outside, a lot of them were of the "nothing you could do about it" variety. Better yet, Beasley and Udonis Haslem were the only two Heat players who had a good offensive game. And it should go without saying that if Udonis Haslem is the guy you're depending on to win the game, you're not gonna win. In the end, Dudley did Dudley things, harassing everyone he guards, helping at exactly the right times, never taking a bad shot, and putting effort into every rebound attempt.

Finally, just as Queen City Hoops noted, Adam Morrison deserves special mention. He used his 6-8 frame to full advantage, forcing smaller guard-types, like Daequan Cook, to both guard him on the block and worry about him shooting over them twenty feet from the basket. The offensive results weren't there, but he was a definite weapon coming off screens and generally threatening the defense with off the ball positioning. Relative to where he was his rookie season, though, he was most impressive on defense. Put it this way: When the Heat went with Quinn and Chalmers, with Quinn running point, Morrison guarded Quinn and made him uncomfortable, keeping up with him wherever he went.

This leaves the Bobcats with some room for optimism, because they put away a team just about everyone thinks is a borderline playoff contender. However, they must guard against believing they've taken a real step forward. Their true talent level is probably still what we thought it was a week ago; the matchup was good, Gerald Wallace stepped up, a few more jumpers dropped, and they made a few more defensive plays. Boom. Thirteen point win.


Answering the questions from before the game:

1) I put on for my city! On, on for my city!

2) Augustin and Felton doubled up time a little bit, but the downside of the strategy wasn't as pronounced as it was during the Cavs game because Chalmers/Banks/Quinn aren't nearly as explosive as Williams/West/Gibson. Neither of the Cats' natural point guards were asked to guard Dwyane Wade, who was in foul trouble for much of the night. For his part, Matt Carroll got the DNP-CD, probably because Adam Morrison's play is rendering him redundant.

3) Kristy went back to blonde.

4) It was announced as a sellout, but there were empty seats. I'd put it at about 85% capacity, which was the same as the Cavs game.

5) I'd say the shooting picked up. 53.6% is better than 33.8%.


This is Aaron Goldhammer, of ESPN Radio WKNR, in Cleveland. I'm not saying this because he's my best friend, but he had the best Halloween costume I saw. Hoops-related, to boot.