The Bobcats edged past Washington for the inside track to the No.6 playoff seed Wednesday night, winning 94-88 in overtime on the road. It was a huge win for Charlotte in several ways, but most notably gave the Bobcats (40-38) the season-ending tiebreaker if it comes to that over Washington (40-38).
Three things that were very impressive to me:
1) The Bobcats' defense, especially in overtime. It was remarkable. The Wizards helped some by going ice-cold, but every shot was contested. Washington scored one -- yes, one -- point in the OT. And Kemba Walker's great "contest" as regulation ended meant John Wall couldn't even get a shot up in 3.2 seconds (and the one he did shoot missed anyway).
2) Gary Neal's offense. On a night when Walker went 6-for-21, Neal provided exactly what the Bobcats had to have, with 16 points. When he was in the game, the Bobcats were plus-13. That's bigtime.
3) Al Jefferson. Washington's Marcin Gortat (27 points, 14 rebounds) gave Jefferson all sorts of fits most of the night. But in overtime, Jefferson was the bigger man, and he ended up with 20 and 18 himself. As usual, Charlotte never would have won this one without "Big Al."
Charlotte's last four regular-season games are at Boston Friday, home vs. Philly Saturday, at Atlanta Monday and home vs. Chicago Wednesday. The last two are the most difficult. But if the Bobcats go 3-1 in those 4, I bet they will avoid Miami or Indiana in the first round and end up with Toronto or Chicago instead. The playoffs start April 19th or 20th, on the road, for Charlotte.