The Bobcats (42-39) clinched a winning record with a 95-93 road victory over Atlanta, and did it with a six-foot runner from Chris Douglas-Roberts as the clock ticked to zero. 3 notes and the most likely playoff scenario:
1. Very interesting strategy from coach Steve Clifford in the fourth quarter. Unlike the Hawks, who are the No.8 playoff seed and rested three starters, the Bobcats had an obvious stake in this game. But Clifford went almost entirely with his second unit in the fourth quarter -- that group got hot and stayed hot.
The only exception was Clifford put his best offensive player, Al Jefferson, back in for Bismack Biyombo midway through the quarter. But Luke Ridnour (10 fourth-quarter points) ran the point instead of Kemba Walker and Gary Neal, Anthony Tolliver and CDR completed the normal five. Josh McRoberts came in for the final 2.6 seconds, but just to throw the winning inbounds pass. It was unusual -- and effective, as the Bobcats outscored Atlanta 30-13 in the fourth.
2. Kemba Walker played about half the game and looked like he was moving OK despite the sore right groin that kept him out of the past two games. But his shot was way off. Walker was 1-for-9 from the floor. Gerald Henderson didn't have the same injury excuse, but he was also 1-for-9. Walker did have seven assists.
3. The Bobcats may eventually look back on last Friday with wistfulness. They remain a game back of Washington in the race for the No.6 seed with one game to play. Had they beaten the woeful Boston Celtics (25-56) in Boston, Charlotte would have the lead for the No.6 spot. As it is now, the Bobcats look likely to play Miami in the playoffs -- the Heat are now officially the No.2 seed.
For Charlotte to play someone else, the Bobcats would have to beat Chicago (48-33) at home Wednesday night, and Washington (43-38) would have to lose to Boston. In that scenario, the Bobcats would play Toronto, a team they are 3-0 against this season.
Charlotte's game Wednesday starts at 7 p.m. (that time was originally 8 p.m. but has been switched). Washington's starts at 8. So if the Bobcats win Wednesday -- and they are 0-3 against the Bulls this season -- they still won't know their playoff seed for another hour.
Most likely playoff scenario? Either Washington wins, or Charlotte loses, or both -- and the Bobcats open their second-ever playoff series on the road this weekend at the two-time defending champions, the Miami Heat. And that ain't all bad, either.
6 months ago