Game 1 – 1/2/09
Score: 103-75 Milwaukee
Meritorious Player: Boris Diaw. 16 points on 12 attempts, 6 assists, 3 rebounds, 0 turnovers. The guy who had gone 5 straight game with at least 4 has 0 and the team still winds up with 23?
Game 2 – 1/3/09
Score: 102-92 Charlotte
Meritorious Player: Boris Diaw again. 21 points on 11 attempts, 7 assists, 6 rebounds1 steal, 1 block, and 5 turnovers…but the team only had 15 as a whole. The Cats were +18 with Boris on the court, with a net efficiency of +31.6.
Bobcats Record after the split: 12-22.
A tale of two cities…a tale of two wildly different games. How to explain losing by 28 one night and following that up the very next night with a 10 point (and should have been more) win over the very same team? A terribly uncomfortable locker room for visitors in Milwaukee? The Bobcats ate too much cheese before the game Friday night? I do not know the exact cause but I will see if I can isolate a few of the changes.
The most obvious difference (and the one Rufus on Fire sees as the most important): Andrew Bogut played on Friday and not on Saturday, due to back spasms. Losing your starting center is a tough blow but it is not as though it left the Bucks hurting for size – they still started a 7-footer in Dan Gadzuric and had Francisco Elson there to back him up. Even with Charlotte playing a more traditional lineup following the trade for Diaw (
no moreless using Gerald Wallace at the 4 – yay), the Bobcats are not an imposing team, size-wise (or most other wise). Furthermore, Bogut hardly played a significant statistical role in Friday's beatdown. He contributed just 2 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists, and 2 blocks. Granted, Bogut is a decent defender – but so is Gadzuric, with that being Dan's primary job on the court – rebound and contest shots. Considering the lack of output on Friday from Bogut and a competent replacement (Gadzuric actually has a season on his resume with a higher PER than Bogut has achieved), Andrew's absence does not seem a solid enough explanation for a 38 point swing.
How about Michael Redd going from 31 points on 16 attempts (in just 32 and a half minutes) on Friday to a more pedestrian 17 on 14 in 35 minutes on Saturday? There was no change in personnel for the Bobcats – Raja Bell was still out so the task of slowing Redd down fell to the same group of Bobcats: Matt Carroll and Raymond Felton ( I do not remember seeing anyone else matched up for extended amounts of time – but considering he was not torching us last night, there was less reason to focus on him). Since I doubt they were up all night watching the “Better Basketball” series and miraculously improving their defense (which is generally at least passable), it falls to this: Redd got hot and shot the Bucks to a quick lead on Friday but not Saturday.
Boris Diaw picked up that mantle – scoring 17 first half points on Saturday, including a couple of difficult looks that had me yelling at him as he took them..and for him once they fell: “No, no!…Yes!” Gerald Wallace took the second half on his shoulders with 22 points after the break (after 2 in the first half). Despite missing two shots from the baseline squarely into the side of the backboard (Gerald really is a poor shooter – those were ugly), Crash stayed with it, scoring some points in transition, on postups and dribble drives. He attacked…and nearly attacked Charlie Villanueva after CV wrapped him up after Gerald ripped a rebound away from him and went up for a layup. Fortunately, no punches were thrown and Crash was fine. And all I could think about was how awesome it would be if the PA guy would play a clip from the Charlie bit my finger youtube video (The youtube video for those confused)). “Ouch, Charlie, that really hurt!” Would it have killed them to get that up on the scoreboard?
Last thing – Charlotte went from 23 turnovers to 15 and 37.6% from the field to 47.1%. Friday night, Milwaukee (and Redd in particular) was hot. Saturday, it was Charlotte's turn. Going forward, it would be nice if it was our turn a bit more often than so far. But, even the great ones never know when it might happen.