Boxscore of Magic and Bobcats – Game 4
Score: 99-90 Orlando
Bobcats record: 0-4
Offensive Efficiency: 105.9
Defensive Efficiency: 116.5
Meritorious Player: Tyrus Thomas 21pts (9-12FGs) 9 rebs
I must say this was difficult to watch, especially the final quarter. Orlando was one of the worst matchups for the Charlotte Bobcats to draw in the first round but I honestly thought they could steal one game from the Magic in this series. As hard as this team played all season it's unfortunate that they are going to be swept away in these playoffs as a first round sidenote.
But there's a numbing duality there that any fan can't ignore, the Charlotte Bobcats didn't have enough. I've heard a lot over the last two days from players on the team and Larry Brown about not moving the ball enough and not executing well enough but it all sound like they just weren't good enough.
It's tough because by just about any metric you choose they were either the best or second best defensive team in the NBA this season and they did nothing in these four games to make anyone second guess that ranking. Stan Van Gundy made it a point to credit the Bobcats defense and toughness again after their win, “Sometimes you are in series where the margin doesn't indicate how difficult the series was. You write it down in the books and it's a sweep, but that was a very, very difficult series.”
Charlotte took Dwight Howard out of the game offensively nearly the entire four games, frustrating the Magic big man using a three-headed monster at center on defense and attacking him on offense. But Charlotte was a toothless tiger on offense clanking jumpers left and right and not getting any consistent offense from their own centers who were just as foul troubled as Howard.
When Charlotte pulled within one with seven minutes to go Orlando rattled off three consecutive three-pointers to put the game away for good. The Bobcats seemed like they were fighting out of their weight class trying to trade twos for threes with each Magic hit dealing a vicious blow to Charlotte's slowing dying season.
This team is missing shooters to unclog the paint so Gerald Wallace doesn't have to score over three guys packing it in because there's no need to worry about the perimeter. As good as this team has been all season defensively no game in the NBA has ever ended in a shutout you have to score to win in this league and despite the Stephen Jackson trade giving the offense a boost this team was lacking on that end all season and the playoffs were no different.
The story doesn't end there however, not when you have a team coached by Larry Brown anyway. You've certainly seen or heard this report by now, while I can't say for certain that Brown is gone I can say that no one I've talked to believes he will stay. That's both good and bad for this team for several reasons that I'll get into later as things change from speculation to actual facts but here's the cliff notes version.
Brown traded for, signed or drafted every player on this roster save for Gerald Wallace and Raymond Felton. For the most part these are Larry Brown type players, veteran guys who are limited offensively but will defend to no end and run through a wall for you. No other coach will match the same success this group experienced with Brown on the sidelines.
Larry got these guys to defend every play despite the fact that the ball didn't routinely go into the hoop that's to his credit. But this is a good time to part ways with the Hall-of-Famer because this summer Charlotte has to make some major decisions on the free agent front. Felton's contract is up and Tyrus Thomas will be restricted it goes without saying that you would want to know your coach's long-term plans before making the commitment to those guys for another three to five years.
Needless to say it will be an interesting offseason for the Bobcats, one that came a little too soon for a team that played so hard.