Apr 11, 2014; Boston, MA, USA; Charlotte Bobcats center Al Jefferson (25) returns up court against the Boston Celtics in the second half at TD Garden. The Celtics defeated the Bobcats 106-103. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

2014 NBA Playoffs: Previewing the Charlotte Bobcats


Record: 35-38

Head Coach: Steve Clifford

Regular Season Team MVP: Al Jefferson

First Round Opponent: Miami Heat

Regular Season Series vs. Miami Heat: Heat won 4-0.

The Charlotte Bobcats have had an up and down season. At times, they looked like the worst team in the league and other times, they looked like one of the best. Basically, they’ve been flip flopping between winning and losing all year on their way to the NBA playoffs, without a lot of streaks on the way. There biggest losing streak was five and there biggest winning streak was four, which they accomplished twice. The Eastern Conference has been terrible in comparison to the West. The East has two teams with losing records that will be in the playoffs, Charlotte being one of them. The eighth seed in the West has a .595 winning percentage. Safe to say, if Charlotte were in the West, they would be far from making the playoffs.

Good news for the Bobcats is the play of Kemba Walker in the stretch of the season. He has stepped up late in the season, which is something Charlotte has been waiting for. Al Jefferson has been the man all season and has even stirred up some buzz for MVP in his first season with Charlotte. Kemba Walker, their second highest scorer, has been complimenting him well so far. In the past ten games, Walker is averaging 17.6 points per game, 7.3 assists per game, 3.5 rebounds per game and 0.9 steals per game. He has amassed 20+ points in seven of those games and 10+ assists in three, including a triple double on April 4th against the Magic. He has been the player the Bobcats have been wanting since they drafted him.

Strengths: The Bobcats’ main strength is simply Al Jefferson. Kemba Walker can also be a strength, but he is very inconsistent. Al Jefferson dominates down low and against Miami, they will definitely need to use that against them, since Miami doesn’t have the best down low game. They also do well defensively, ranking 5th in opponents points per game at 97.5 (tied with Miami and Toronto). If they want to win, they will need Al Jefferson to continue his stellar play, Kemba Walker to step up and play consistent good basketball, and stay on the prowl defensively.

With the way Al Jefferson has played this season and the way Kemba Walker has played during the final stretch of the regular season, Charlotte has looked better than they have in a while. Al Jefferson has led the game in scoring in 23 games this season. The Charlotte Bobcats have won 20 of those games, keeping in mind they have only won 38 overall. When Big Al takes over with his scoring, Charlotte is tough to beat. They are also creating some momentum, now on a 3 game winning streak.

Weaknesses: Charlotte has a lot of weaknesses to overcome when the playoffs start. First is their ability to score. They rank 25th in the league at scoring, with 96.4 points per game. The Miami Heat score 103.0 points per game. Next is their assists per game, which they rank . One more weakness is their rebounds per game, which they rank 21st at 42.2 rebounds per game. If they want to win in the playoffs, they will need to focus on passing the ball, scoring and rebounding.

The Bobcats have had a tough time playing on the road, with a losing record of 15-22 so far this year. When the playoffs come, playing well on the road becomes key. Especially when the team you’re going against will most likely have home court advantage. If you can’t win on the road, you’re already put at a disadvantage and have even more to overcome. They don’t have the kind of roster a playoff team usually has, but because the East has been so terrible this year they are lucky enough to potentially make the playoffs. They need to overcome a lot, but even that probably won’t be enough.

Playoff Ceiling: The Charlotte Bobcats will most likely be matched up with the Miami Heat. Given that the Heat have won two straight championships and are the second seed in the East, they have a huge advantage. Best case scenario is Charlotte loses in the first round. For the Charlotte Bobcats, even a win in the playoffs would be a sign of better things to come. This is a team that might not even have a winning record come playoff time. If they could get a playoff win, that would be something they could be proud of. Although their playoff ceiling isn’t very high at all, their main focus should just be getting a win against the two-time defending champions.

What Will Happen: The Miami Heat have already swept the Charlotte Bobcats in the regular season, confidently might I add. It would be the biggest upset of the playoffs if the Bobcats were to defeat the Miami Heat. They would be highly against the odds and would surprise the whole nation. Now, let’s get back to reality. The Charlotte Bobcats won’t make it to the second round. Chances are, they probably don’t even get a playoff win. Playing the Miami Heat is something they’ve been struggling with all season and in the playoffs, the Miami Heat get very hungry and very tough to beat in a seven game series. I predict the Miami Heat sweep the Charlotte Bobcats once again and the Bobcats go home in a 0-4 series loss.

 

Editor’s note: This was a guess post from Justin Becker of FantasyBasketballMoneyLeagues.com. You can follow him on twitter at @NBAFantasyInfo, and you can follow the Fantasy Basketball Money Leagues Google+ Page. For more NBA basketball news visit FantasyBasketballMoneyLeagues.com, a fantasy basketball blog.

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