Game one is now mere hours away and I feel like my heart is thumping less with the goal of keeping me alive as much as trying to sync to the beat of Ante Up.
Much like the beginning of the regular season, the beginning of the playoffs has the magical power of renewing hope, a valuable (even if futile) resource in the face of a daunting goal. And the Bobcats certainly have an imposing opponent in the Heat, to say the least.
ESPN has Charlotte's odds of winning the series at 5.1 percent. The NBA's SportVU metrics measuring the teams' effectiveness in player matchups and how successful they are in certain situations do not bode well for the Bobcats' chances. Blah blah blah, never tell me the odds! The rational side of me already knows the Bobcats will probably get blown to pieces by the defending champs. The irrational side of me will take whatever sliver of hope there is, and I'm fine with that.
Oh, and what a sliver it is!
Miami has the superior talent, we know. They have the best player. "Basketball is a game that starts at the top of your roster," Steve Clifford said before the season even started. "Whoever has the best single player on the floor has a decided advantage."
And even after LeBron James, they have Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. The Bobcats have Al Jefferson then Kemba Walker and then Josh McRoberts/Michael Kidd-Gilchrist/Gerald Henderson/Gary Neal.
The slippery slope rules my mind of irrational what-ifs, and I don't care. They'll be quieted soon enough, probably, but before a single minute is played, anything is still possible.
Much like in film or television, the suspension of disbelief is key. We all know how implausible the chances of the Bobcats winning this series (or even just a couple games) are. But the character of this team is so endearing and the characters on this team have been so captivating and fun, my mind is more than willing to momentarily suspend judgement of how unlikely an upset it, despite still knowing the probable outcome (which I think, sadly, will be a sweep).
And so, I'm so very excited for today. In the face of everything, I am more excited about Bobcats basketball than I have been in recent memory.
Just focusing on the present, this very moment, the Bobcats have no worst-case scenario. They're already in the playoffs and playing their worst matchup in the Eastern Conference. We already know that whatever they have, they'll put it on the floor: a dominant low-post scorer and an intimidating defense with a flashy talented scorer, a fun pass-happy forward with long hair that doesn't care, and a bench full of players who fill their roles well.
This is the Bobcats two years after rock bottom. That was the old world order. This is the new world order. You can do what you want but for now, I'm going to focus on what tiny shred of hope there is in spite of their odds and even what I think will happen, all things considered.
The underdog is embraced for taking on uncomfortable odds and the Bobcats have quite uncomfortable odds. They'd have to take apart the Heat in an incredible way to beat them. The bounds of reality's likely outcomes do not bound our hopes.
Here's to a surprising start to the Bobcats' last postseason against the NBA's reigning champions.
TAKE MINKS OFF. TAKE THINGS OFF. TAKE CHAINS OFF.
TAKE RINGS OFF.