Opening night of the 2007-08 season was a success – No one got hurt. Oh, and the Bobcats won, so that was cool too. In fact, it should not have been as close as the final score was, 102-99, except the team forgot to practice free throws this summer. Whatever, you can read about that elsewhere. Here are some of the things I wanted to point out:
1. The starting 5 was solid – even if it was not the one I would have picked. In 15 minutes and 56 seconds of action, they had an adjusted +/- of 0.03 points per possession. Granted, that is not a huge margin, but they outplayed the opposition, and that is what they need to do. On offense, they were nothing special at 1.03 ppp, but they had a strong defensive night, allowing only 1.00 ppp to the Bucks. They actually had more turnovers than their competition (7 to 4) and did a poor job on the defensive glass (Bucks had 7 offensive rebounds to the Cats 12 defensive), but they did an even better jobs on the offensive glass, with 6 offensive boards to 9 defensive for the Deer.
2. The Queen City Hoops Greatest Lineup Ever Award goes to a very unlikely group…due to one player in it. Jeff McInnis – With him on the floor with the rest of the starting 5, minus Primoz, the Cats dominated, to the tune of a +0.19 adjusted +/-. This group did it with hot shooting (8 of 13 from the floor, but only 8 of 18 from the line) and turnovers (6 forced, only 3 committed).
3. Overall, a solid offensive showing from the Bobcats. They scored at a rate of 1.10 ppp, far above last years rate of 1.03. Again, shooting and offensive rebounding were big – 48.7% from the floor and they grabbed 36.1% of the available offensive rebounds (last year, they were at 26.4% on the offensive glass).
4. Some more surprises for you: The best offensive players were Matt Carroll, Ryan Hollins, and Jeff McInnis. These 3 had the highest offensive efficiency numbers associated with them being on the floor, with Hammer at 1.24, Hollins at 1.30, and McInnis at 1.22. Considering none of these 3 did much on offense tonight, I think they need to thank their teammates for making them look good. I will give them credit for one thing: In their combined 50 minutes of action, they committed a single turnover between the 3 of them.
5. Jason Richardson was a burden to the team tonight. Due to his inefficient shooting, the Bobcats only scored at a rate of 1.05 ppp with J-Rich on the floor. And the defense was actually worse with him out there as well, at 1.10. I will discount this as him still getting his game legs, after missing some time this pre-season.
While it may not have looked like the game we had hoped for, the outcome certainly was: The Bobcats are now 1-0 on the season, and tied for first in the division with the Hawks. And all of a sudden, Sunday night at Miami does not look so intimidating, as Wade is out and Shaq looks more mortal than ever. 2-0 on the horizon? Just might be.
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