« Charlotte Bobcats would open Sunday afternoon, on ABC, if they face the Miami Heat in playoffs | Main | Charlotte Bobcats center Al Jefferson: 'I should be good for tonight' »

April 17, 2014

The difference in Bobcats/Heat playoff experience is eye-catching

Here’s a number that’s hard to dismiss in the upcoming playoff matchup between the Charlotte Bobcats and the Miami Heat:

            The players Heat coach Erik Spoelstra can turn to have 1,069 games of playoff experience including 727 starts. The players Bobcats coach Steve Clifford can use have 127 games of playoff appearances and 15 starts.

            Kinda stunning, huh?

That doesn’t mean all is lost. In the first NBA playoff series I covered some kids named LJ, Zo and Kendall beat Larry Bird, Kevin McHale and Robert Parish. Now that was different in that Bird was shot, McHale was next-to-shot, and Reggie Lewis had that ghastly collapse that was a harbinger of his eventual passing.

Stuff happens in the playoffs. The Golden State Warriors won a round last season, then gave the San Antonio Spurs fits in the playoffs. But the extent of the Bobcats’ post-season inexperience is telling.

Three of the five starters – Kemba Walker, Gerald Henderson and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist – have never played in the post-season. No matter how much fans wish for the contrary, that will be a shock come Sunday in Miami.

The most playoff-ready guy on the Bobcats’ roster is Gary Neal. He played 41 games with the San Antonio Spurs, all of them as a reserve. The only reason there are 15 playoff starts on this active roster is because backup point guard Luke Ridnour has 11 – back to when Seattle had an NBA team.

Several weeks back I asked Neal about the difference between regular-season basketball and playoff basketball. He described that mistakes that are acceptable in Game 57 of  a regular season become deathly in Game 7 of any playoff series.

The mistakes Neal describes will define how long the Bobcats stick around the next two weeks.

Posted by Observer Sports on April 17, 2014 at 01:55 AM | Permalink


larry bird retired in august 1992

i mean seriously, are you not embarrassed by anything?

Posted by: Not Exactly | Apr 17, 2014 4:22:17 AM

Time to shock the world!

Posted by: David | Apr 17, 2014 7:22:57 AM

Yea..Larry didn't play in that series...


Posted by: ngp67 | Apr 17, 2014 8:48:18 AM

What was Coach Cal doing at the game last night. I hope he knows he can't recruit guys ALREADY in the league. Never know with Cal.

Posted by: Steve Sheridan | Apr 17, 2014 9:08:31 AM

No one expects us to win, including most of our fans, but I love everything about this team. They play with so much heart, and they seem to never be out of a game, no matter how many points they get down by. Lets just play a competitive series, and show the league we are built to last.

Posted by: CLT11 | Apr 17, 2014 9:29:08 AM

Rick, do you have alzheimer's or are you just a liar? Larry Bird was retired and watched the games in Boston from the stands. I remember the day they played game 2, I had an infant son at home and was watching the game. The TV cameras were showing Larry Bird watching from the stands applauding Kevin McHale's efforts in what would be his last series. Please dont make things up, some people can call you out, it makes you look really bad.

Posted by: Frank | Apr 17, 2014 9:37:45 AM

Da heat finna lose to da cats...u already kno. I bet $1200 on dem cats. RT if ya wanna bet

Posted by: Malachi Black | Apr 17, 2014 9:43:26 AM

Yes, Bird was retired. Yes, whiffing on that is a bit sloppy since it could've easily be verified. But, seriously, "Not Exactly" and "Frank", you can call Rick out without being a d**k about it.

Posted by: Alex | Apr 17, 2014 10:20:38 AM

The Cats improved by leaps and bounds this season, more than doubling their wins. They have 2 bonafide stars in Kemba and Big Al and Steve Clifford is a serious contender for coach of the year. The future looks bright and it should be a great 1st season for the return of the Hornets.

That being said there is no way they're getting out of the 1st round. They lack both talent and experience, esp at the 2 and 3, and have no answer for the Bron-Bosh tandem, even when Big Al has a monster game. They are also very vulnerable to any team that gets hot from behind the arc.

My hope is that we steal one game and keep the other 4 close.

Posted by: apauldds | Apr 17, 2014 10:44:07 AM

So even after the adjustment process of a new coaching staff, learning to play with Big Al, after injuries to Jefferson, Walker, Henderson, MKG, McRoberts and Taylor (whose defense will be missed in this series against the Heat). And after 8 games that prevented the Bobcats from a better playoff matchup:
2 losses vs Utah Jazz
2 losses vs Boston Celtics
2 losses vs Orlando Magic
1 loss vs Philadelphia 76ers
1 loss vs Los Angeles Lakers

No disrespect to any of those teams, but those were games the Bobcats could have realistically won and should have won.

That means that with the right moves and motivation the 2014-15 Hornets can realistically be a 50 win Team in the East next season. Mr MJ might not be so crazy after all when he promised an elite, Top 4 Team in the East.

Posted by: RobC | Apr 17, 2014 11:05:16 AM

Evidently, Rick made a mistake. Parrish and McHale played, Larry Bird was retired...
That's what can happen sometimes, when you quote from memory, without verifying the facts.

Now, delete the reference to Bird - which Rick should've done himself in the first place.
You'll be left with a short article that makes good points: surprises happen in playoffs, and to give yourself a chance you need to prevent any mistakes that can be prevented.

Kemba Walker was saying last night something like "we're not concerned what team we'll be playing against. We just have to go out there, play our best, with one goal: to win".
Coach Clifford also is concerned in the first place with how the team plays, not who they're going up against.

Now, I'm not trying to be funny and say it doesn't matter who's the opponent. I would've been much happier if that was the Raptors. It's not.

As long as the players go out with the energy and mindset that coach Clifford is asking of them, and Kemba was talking about, this series will be worth playing and worth watching. At the very least, this will be getting important playoffs experience, that the young players can build upon towards next season.

It's not about making calculations in advance about the result of the series, it's about playing hard and scrappy, playing like you have nothing to lose, but everything to gain from this experience.

Posted by: Sandy | Apr 17, 2014 11:31:11 AM

I wonder how many searches Google got for "Reggie Lewis" after this article was posted.

Posted by: tmack652 | Apr 17, 2014 12:52:16 PM

Love the team, but here is where having a PG that isn't even 6ft is going to expose us. That being said, go cats!!!!!

Posted by: The Dude | Apr 17, 2014 3:03:27 PM

Go Charlotte Bobcats!!!!! Love all my Charlotte Cats!!!

Posted by: Teresa | Apr 17, 2014 3:28:35 PM

"Expose us?" Yes. Because Miami is know for having such physically dominant point gaurds. Moron. That being said. Go Cats!

Posted by: David | Apr 18, 2014 7:11:14 AM

Can't wait to shock the world. We will wipe the smirks off their cocky faces and watch them whine, complain, and act like cry babies. Can't wait for Sunday. Go Cats!

Posted by: Tyrese Jones | Apr 18, 2014 9:13:40 PM

In the playoffs , teams take your main plays away and exploit your weaknesses . They will trap Kemba to turn him over , disrupt the offense and score in transition which the Heat feeds off of . The offense has to run thru McRoberts . Zeller too at the foul line and mid post where he's a good passer who sees over the top . He has hit cutters , Jefferson and handed off the ball to wings . Henderson and Jefferson have run the pick and rolll from the side well . He too can see over the top .

This team has to have plays run for Mkg , Henderson and Cdr . In wins. Henderson shoots 45 n 38 . In losses , 41 n 32 . The Spurs are the season champs . They did it w a ton of guys who are no better than is here bc the stars were out . It's from cuts , screens , back doors and execution which must be done here more . The days are over of high USEAGE of two players and selfish play . One mistake and you're in the hole . Share the ball which is the hardest thing to do in the nba .

Keep the score low , stop transition , swarm and pack the paint on James . He will choke . We know they want the Cats to rotate bc they're slow at it so you will see great ball movement from the Heat to score off close outs which is the easiest way . This too is a weakness of packing the paint .

There's no reason that the Cats can't be in every game if they share the ball , pass out of doubles , hit cutters , stop transition which they're good at and keep it in the low 90's. Yeah , I preached it all yr and now is why . Had they done it all yr , when the pressure mounts , they can overcome bc of the huge reps . And all that lauding them for past merits ain't worth a damn now and wasn't then bc it never is the recipe to win in the present .when
King James comes on the break like a freight train barreling down on Kemba , he can't say I made player of the week to stop him . Lol.

Move Kemba off the ball . Run him like Parker . He has an advantage over Chalmers and Cole . Post up Henderson and let him work in ISO to get Wade in foul trouble on the other side Jeffersons on . Spread them out far n wide and make Jefferson maintain his low block position at all costs . The bench can't give away these games by not laying defense and jacking . Run the shot clock all the way down to lower total possessions by the Heat .

The Heat will try to bring Jefferson out to the top w anyone he checks . They know he doesn't defend well up top . Or put James in the screen n roll. His defender to get an elbow shot wide open if Jefferson doesn't help . I don't know how to respond to this . Clifford is smarter than me so I'm sure he's figured it out . If not , it's gunna be a short series bc these two issues will be the number one and two things exploited in the series . I have the answer btw . Just want to see if any of you geniuses have figured it out . Lmfao . Let's go Cats !!! Way to go Mj !!!!! You finally get in the league w your peers who you want to beat that had successes as team managers ....Isiah . Bird . Mchale . Paxon . Ainge . Etc .

Posted by: Iron man | Apr 19, 2014 8:40:25 AM

The team is not as good as in the past. Even James has looked mortal. We would win in 5 if the Heat did not have James. Let's see what happens on Sunday. I am throwing all previous encounters out the window. We have played much better than the Heat since the all star break. I am not one of those believers that you can be great in the playoffs and mediocre down the stretch. The Heat have not played well at the end of the season and I am confident they will be in for a big surprise. Go Cats!!

Posted by: Tyrese Jones | Apr 19, 2014 9:22:05 AM

"We would win in 5 if the Heat did not have James."

And the Bulls wouldn't have won 6 titles without Air Minimum...

...but they did, and they do.

Posted by: NASTAR99 | Apr 19, 2014 5:37:30 PM

What if the heat trots out Birdman , Bosh , Beasley , Battier and Janes ? Who does Kemba check ? Or Wade who would replace Beaslley . Wade would take him inside which could be worse . Riley is pondering this now .

Posted by: Iron man | Apr 19, 2014 7:24:13 PM

Too bad we don't have the giant Chris Paul. Ironman is an idiot. Maybe Bosh will play point and guard Kemba.

Posted by: Tyrese Jones | Apr 19, 2014 9:30:43 PM

Kemba would dominate that Heat lineup. No one could guard him. The Bulls tried Butler on him. How did that work out?

Posted by: David | Apr 20, 2014 12:46:17 AM

Lol. James Jones , Wade , James , Bosh and Birdman played many minutes together . A huge lineup ESP in the back ct . You guys are real bright .

Posted by: Iron man | Apr 20, 2014 6:56:03 PM

Cats aren't gonna win a game this series if every time mkg blows on james they call a foul it's frigin ridiculous. .gotta let them play...

Posted by: shane | Apr 20, 2014 9:25:53 PM

MKG plays < 15 minutes.....told ya so.

Posted by: NASTAR99 | Apr 20, 2014 9:51:52 PM

Another example why the coverage from the observer is bush league.

Posted by: unknown | Apr 20, 2014 10:56:02 PM

The Hornets will have the 24 Pick, the 45th Pick and over $17M in Cap Space, plus the Mini-mid Level exception of $3.5M.

This may sound a little crazy but due to the fit with Clifford's system this could work out great for the Hornets future, buiding a winnig team for the next 5-8 years.

Use a big portion of the Cap Space to go after Luol Deng (assuming he is healthy). No more than 3 years woth between $27-$30M with a 3rd year option. This will allow MKG to play both wings off the bench, work on his offense and learn from one of the best defensive minded SF in the league. Deng will also fit perfectly in Clifford system and turn this team into a contender.

Also, go after Jordan Hill with a 2 year deal worth around $7-$9M, and have him as our back-up Center. Biz can stay in the team and be the 3rd Center. Although Biz is good on defense, his offense is way too much of a liability, he can't even catch a ball and he's had plenty of opportunities. Hill is a very good defender, rebounder, taller, young and has a respectable offensive game.

Then the Hornets should address their 3P Shooting in the draft and maybe the 3rd PG as well.

With the 24th pick - Stauskas (Michigan), Hood (Duke), Warren (NC State), Early (Wichita St) or McDaniels (Clemson) could be really good.

With the 45th pick - Micic (Serbia) or Kane (Iowa St.), either of those big PG (6'-4") would be great and much better than Pargo (no disrespect to him) as a third PG.

Resign Josh McRoberts with a 3 years contract worth around $12-$15M.

Use the Mini-mid Level of $3.5M to go after Ramon Sessions or a much better back-up PG. Greivis Vazquez or Shaun Livingston will also be great, but might be too expensive.

These moves will force the Hornets to choose between CDR and Jeff Taylor, as good as CDR has been I will give Taylor the benefit of the doubt since he also can learn a ton from Luol Deng and is a much younger, better and stronger defender than CDR.

PG: Kemba/Session?/45th Pick
SG: Henderson/Neal/24th Pick
SF: Deng/MKG/Taylor
PF: McRoberts/Zeller
C: Jefferson/Hill/Biyombo/Haywood

Ideally they would trade/waive Haywood for another PF, although Deng can also play the PF position if necessary. With the new Cap space, that team will roughly hit the Cap the next 2 season (while being an elite team in the East), and still be like $14M under the Luxury Tax, meaning the Hornets can resigned Kemba Walker next summer and any other rookie as needed. Then Jefferson, Henderson and other come of the books, giving them over $30M to deal with, plus all the future draft picks and great credibility.

Posted by: RobC | Apr 23, 2014 10:48:55 AM

If something close to that happens rob that will b great....I think we have to up grade at shooting guard more than anywhere else..hendo is a tough player but we need a scorer at that position that has size....

Posted by: shane | Apr 23, 2014 12:27:54 PM

deng is not better than MKG can be. we just don't know how to use MKG. I would however, be completely on board with bringing in deng and letting mcroberts go as a slight upgrade there and playing with deng and MKG as the 3/4. that would work. get better defensively. arguably equal on offense.

reggie lewis was the man. he and muggsy were high school teammates at dunbar if i'm not mistaken.

Posted by: charlottean | Apr 24, 2014 1:35:38 PM

The comments to this entry are closed.