San Antonio Spurs @ Charlotte Bobcats
Time Warner Cable Arena
Dec. 8th, 2012,6:00 Spurs Time
TV: FFSW,SPSO - RADIO: 1200 AM WOAI
It has been a wacky week in Spurs land. CIA Pop and BHP (Big Hissy Pants) Stern have been going at it. A weird (and contextually irrelevant) photo hit the interweb and made media d-bags froth at the mouth. But lost in all of this is that the Spurs are playing outstanding basketball. They won the "Battle of the West" last Sunday and are concentrated in tweaking a system, while some teams are still trying to learn how to play the game together. Perhaps the most Spurs like thing that happened this week happened in LA when a former Pop prodigy showed that a less talented team who passes a lot can beat an extremely talented team who has a violent allergic reaction to words like "distribution" and "team work".
Elsewhere in the association it has been a week that spurred (not an intentional pun) and continued some intriguing story-lines. One of those story-lines is what is going on in the city that the Spurs are visiting for their next game, Charlotte the city of the Bobcats. Last year Charlotte's nickname (unofficial) was the Charlotte "Shit Storm". But this season they have retained their right to be named after a deadly (especially if you happen to be a rabbit) predatory feline. The renaissance going on in Charlotte is one of the surprises of the early part of this season. Last season sucked for the Cats. It doesn’t get suckier than that actually. In the 2011-2012 season, they were the worst team in the history of the NBA. (aesthetically and statistically) But whereas some teams respond to a horrible year by continuing to wallow in ineptitude (read: the Wizards), the Bobcats have rebounded and look like a team moving towards becoming a contender in a few years. This response begs the question, was last season a part some grand overarching plan? If so then wow. Just wow. That question is impossible for me to answer because I cannot see inside Michael Jordan’s head. So here are some tangible observations about the Charlotte Bobcats.
The Bobcats are cool.
Rufus on fire posted an excellent write-up that said the Bobcat’s coolness was the most surprising thing about them. I am going to echo this sentiment. Maybe it’s the new uniforms. Maybe it’s the fact that they actually go into a game with a chance of winning. Maybe it is their suburb guard play. Maybe it is their youthfulness, agility, and monster dunks. Whatever it is, the Cats have that "something" that was missing from last year’s misery squad. When they lose (and they still do that by the way) they lose with "style". All of their losses have been close. (except for the ones against OKC and Dallas, let’s not talk about those) They have become a watchable team, which is certainly a cool thing. They are not the coolest team in the NBA. That distinction belongs to the Silver and Black. (no homer) But the Bobcats certainly are cool.
Michael Kidd Gilchrist was a good draft pick.
The Rookie of the Year race just got real. The funny thing is that Anthony Davis is now the number three contender (or 4th if Harrison Barnes shows improvement) (or 5th if Alexey Shved stays the course) (or 6th if Kyle Singler keeps this up) (Or 7th if… OK I’m done.) For now this is a competition between Damian Lillard and Michael Kidd Gilchrist ,and one that Damian seems to be winning. (But MKG is not at fault there, Damian is playing somewhere outside the known universe.) But regardless of what happens with that arbitrary award, MKG is looking like a solid defensive and offensive player who has an obscenely high ceiling. His play has to have Bobcat fans smiling.
Kemba Walker is the Bobcat’s starting point guard and that’s a good thing.
Kemba got way too many minutes last year. Or was it too many? Was putting in a rookie point guard in lieu of a more experienced player part of some plan? What is certain is that Mr. Walker is playing out of his skull right now, and looking like an elite point guard. I was so ready to slap the dreaded label "outstanding in college, mediocre in the NBA" on his very broad shoulders. Well played Bobcats, well played.
Byron was an unexceptional college player who became an even more unexceptional professional player. But then he joins the Bobcats and they give him an exceptional amount of minutes, he takes those minutes and lights the basketball world on fire. OK that last bit was a little over-dramatic, but whatever. Byron is having a great year and is a big part of the Cat's identity. Crazy world. Add Byron’s improvement with the play of Ramon Sessions and Ben Gordon and Charlotte's team is like the mind of Stan Lee. A hero can come from anywhere.
This team has a shot at making the playoffs.
OK maybe add "really long" before the word "shot." However it could happen. That is a testament to the play of the Cats and the ultimate crap festival that is the bottom half of the Eastern conference. I mean that conference is so bad that a team that is trying to tank could actually make the playoffs. If they Bobcats snap out of their recent funk, they could make the playoffs which would blow the minds of most sports analysts. (I am personally hoping that Jim Rome’s brain explodes all over an ESPN owned camera, that guy is super annoying.)
I am concerned about this game. (That was a totally freaking strange thing to type.) In fact I would rather the Spurs play the Miami Heat than the Bobcats. With the Heat you know what to expect, with the Bobcats anything can happen. Theoretically Ramon Sessions could go off for 40 points. Conversely Ben Gordon could sit down in the middle of the court and scream "I don’t want to change teams anymore! Somebody love me!" The sky and the ground are the limits for the Bobcats. I am going to cautiously say that the Cats play somewhere in the middle tonight. I am also going to assert that the Spurs have enough experience and guile to weather even the most unexpected of storms. So… we got this.
The Charlotte Bobcat's perspective can be found here: Rufus on Fire
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Game Prediction: Spurs by 2. Vegas says Spurs by 8.5
Game Previewers Prediction Records & how many points off per prediction
Joe deLarios 5-0 (-1, 3, 5, 0, 1)
Wes Thorne 5-1* (-1, 0, 23, 2, -8*,1) *@MIA
Racm 2-3 (-25, -14, -5, 15, 14)
Stijl 1-1 (-12, 11)
Fred 1-0 (3)
CapHill 1-0 (13)
As always Tony must dominate Fisher, and NBA league pass is recommended for those who are willing to pony up the cash. Almost every Spurs game will be broadcast there, which is especially helpful for those of us who aren't in the San Antonio area. Please don't post links to illegal game feeds in the game thread. Links to illegal feeds are not permitted on SBNation, but you can probably find them out there on the internets if you're resourceful and desperate.