After four terrible years the Charlotte Bobcats have made the NBA playoffs, clinching the spot with a 96-94 overtime win over the Cleveland Cavaliers, barely hanging on with Kyrie Irving storming through their defense for most of the game, but getting just about enough from Kemba Walker and Al Jefferson.
The last time the Bobcats were in the postseason was in 2010 before getting swept in the first round. A season later Michael Jordan broke that team apart and it took him three more years, including a massive Al Jefferson signing and finally being pleased with a rookie first rounder in Kemba Walker to put the team in a position to once again be in a postseason.
Irving, who isn’t going through the easiest time, with some suggesting the Cavs are actually better without him, tried to show the world he can be a positive force. He was selfish, but it mostly worked out with 44 points on 16-of-31 from the field. Was it beneficial for his team? The bottom line always speaks the truth, and Irving missed a potential game winner in overtime despite being wide open, resulting in the loss, and his teammates looked awful throughout the game.
Are the Cavs better with Irving touching the ball less? They’ll probably be thinking about that during the off-season, but the story in the Quicken Loans Arena, at least for one night, was the one telling about the Bobcats clinching a playoff spot, likely to go as the number 7 team which right now means a date with the Indiana Pacers, a team they’ve gone 1-2 this season against.
Jefferson scored 24 points and grabbed 15 rebounds on only 9-of-21 from the field. It seemed like it was a rough night for pretty much everyone but Kyrie Irving. Kemba Walker scored 20 points for Charlotte but also doing quite badly in terms of efficiency with 7-of-23 from the field. The Bobcats shot 37.4% from the field, slightly better than the Cavs’ 36.5%, with things looking much worse when you take away Irving’s numbers: 29.2%, including an awful 5-of-16 from Dion Waiters who scored 14 points. Cleveland are now 3.5 games behind the Atlanta Hawks and have a very slim chance of making the postseason.
Next season Charlotte will once again be called the Hornets, which might help them become a bit more popular on a nationwide level, not to mention creating some buzz in the city. The Hornets probably reminds everyone of the happy 90’s, although this team at the moment doesn’t quite have the star power of Larry Johnson and Alonzo Mourning. They’ll have to settle for Big Al and Walker, although they might actually be ending up with another lottery pick that makes them quite dangerous when thinking about next season.
Words can’t describe it. For me, Gerald (Henderson), and Biz (Bismack Biyombo), we were the original guys here. We were on the worst team my first two years, so to go from there to here, it’s like night and day. This means a lot, individually and as a team. I thought we would be good, but I think we’ve exceeded everybody’s expectations — even our own.