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Blogcat's Take, 3/26


Despite the Hornets’ bootylicious performance last night against the Pistons, I’m still feeling pretty good about the team right now for four main reasons—two of which are blindingly obvious. Most obviously, a few nights prior, Charlotte did what I thought was impossible and topped their A-list victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers earlier in the season with an A+-list victory over San Antonio. For Hornets fans, to have those two achievements on your resumé is Super-Bowl-champion-&-husband-of-Gisele-Bündchen territory. Relatedly, the Hornets remain 10 games over .500, and just saying that out loud feels like saying “Boaty McBoatface” out loud, because it’s that ridiculous. The Westgate Las Vegas Superbook had a preseason over/under of 32.5 wins for Charlotte, and at 41-31 the Hornets have massively overachieved on a level not seen since Moses.

Third, having to play Andre Drummond multiple times a year is like having to take care of somebody’s non-spayed Rottweiler for a week; it’s only a matter of time before he gets loose and runs amok. I don’t know if it was by luck or by design, but the Hornets have shown an uncanny ability to get Drummond in foul trouble. In 2014-15 and so far in 2015-16, Drummond has averaged 5.5 and 4.5 personal fouls per 48 minutes, respectively, against the league as a whole (per NBA.com). But against Charlotte—and even including last night—those averages were 6.4 and 6.3. Subsequently, he simply hasn’t been on the court against the Hornets. Drummond’s MPG against the league over the last two seasons has been 30.5 and 33.1; against Charlotte, he’s played 28.2 and 25.4 MPG. Unsurprisingly, the Pistons are a much worse team without Drummond; this year, they’re a net +1.7 points per 100 possessions with him on the court and a -4.2 without him. That’s also not accounting for the intangible cost of having to play more tentatively when in foul trouble. For instance, in the teams’ first meeting in December, Drummond picked up his third foul with 2:50 to play in the first half after only getting about 4 minutes of run in the second quarter. Then he picked up his fourth and fifth fouls in rapid succession with just over 7 minutes to play in the third and had to go to the bench for the rest of the period. He didn’t come back until there was just under 8 minutes to go and the Pistons were staring at a 20-point deficit, at which point his hands were figuratively tied. He got about 4 minutes of nondescript run in and that was it; long story short: high foul rates have a quantitative and qualitative cost, and the Hornets have exploited it for several games until last night. So while I’m angry about that poop pile of a performance vs. the Pistons, my irritation is mitigated by the recognition that it was bound to happen sooner or later.

Fourth, let’s take a step back and acknowledge that this team has shown remarkable in-game resiliency when playing from behind. Of course, that Spurs win that started out as a 28-7 deficit was the latest, most coruscating example, but don’t forget about the 9-point comeback against the Wizards with 5 minutes to play in November, the 6-point 4th quarter comeback against the Bulls in December, the win against the Grizzlies in which Charlotte started out trailing 11-0, the other Grizzlies win in which they came back from 5 points down with 7 minutes to play; I could go on…okay, I will! This season really has played out like a telenovela. There was that insane 18-point comeback against the Magic with 10 minutes left, that aforementioned majestic 9-point halftime comeback against Cleveland, another comeback against the Wizards in January (this one from 19 points in the second quarter), the 3-point escape in Milwaukee after trailing the Bucks by 13 in the 3rd, and the recent thriller against the Heat when Charlotte was down by 15 and on the verge of getting Michael Spinks’ed in the 2nd quarter. And of course, there was the double-feature grindhouse schlockfest against the Kings—the first of which was a 17-point 4th quarter comeback in November, followed by its Planet Terror sequel in January, in which the Hornets trailed by 17 in the first quarter and eventually took it in 2OT. Every time an opponent’s lead has looked overwhelming to fans, the players themselves don’t even seem whelmed.

Having said that, there’s still ample opportunity to drive this playoff truck into a lottery ditch. Rick Bonnell and others have already made a playoff birth a foregone conclusion and have begun speculating—ludicrously, in my opinion—on the chances of homecourt advantage in the first round. Yet the Hornets only hold a 2.5 game advantage on Indiana and Detroit for the 8th seed (although they do have the tiebreaker over both of them). Charlotte’s saving grace is that 50% of its remaining 10 games are squash jobs: the Knicks, Nets, Magic, and a glorious two-game set with the Sixers, which sticks out on the schedule like two gold-plated rims on a dirt bike. Nonetheless, we have to deal with Milwaukee tonight—who seem to give us more fits than a dressing room—and Cleveland, Toronto, and two late-season affairs against the Wizards and Boston, the former of which could still be fighting for its survival and the latter of which could still be fighting for seeding. It’s hard to say whether Detroit has it easier or harder: on one hand, of their 9 remaining games, all but one (Orlando) are against teams fighting for playoff positioning, but on the other hand, only one game is against an elite team (the Thunder), and the season finale against Cleveland will most likely be against the Cavs bench. Meanwhile, the Pacers have a schedule that is arguably easier than Charlotte’s: they have an extra game in hand, plus two each against the Knicks and Brooklyn, and one each against the Magic and Sixers. So while I’m happy and thankful for this season, rarely anything is ever a done deal. If I’ve learned anything in life, it’s that. And also never to crowd-source a name for your multimillion dollar cutting-edge research vessel.

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  • 3 Comments

    The Westgate Las Vegas Superbook had a preseason over/under of 32.5 wins for Charlotte, and at 41-31 the Hornets have massively overachieved on a level not seen since Moses.

    Oh, this:

     

    http://hornetsplanet...as#entry1066573

     

    Fourth, let’s take a step back and acknowledge that this team has shown remarkable in-game resiliency when playing from behind. Of course, that Spurs win that started out as a 28-7 deficit was the latest, most coruscating example, but don’t forget about the 9-point comeback against the Wizards with 5 minutes to play in November, the 6-point 4th quarter comeback against the Bulls in December, the win against the Grizzlies in which Charlotte started out trailing 11-0, the other Grizzlies win in which they came back from 5 points down with 7 minutes to play; I could go on…okay, I will! This season really has played out like a telenovela. There was that insane 18-point comeback against the Magic with 10 minutes left, that aforementioned majestic 9-point halftime comeback against Cleveland, another comeback against the Wizards in January (this one from 19 points in the second quarter), the 3-point escape in Milwaukee after trailing the Bucks by 13 in the 3rd, and the recent thriller against the Heat when Charlotte was down by 15 and on the verge of getting Michael Spinks’ed in the 2nd quarter. And of course, there was the double-feature grindhouse schlockfest against the Kings—the first of which was a 17-point 4th quarter comeback in November, followed by its Planet Terror sequel in January, in which the Hornets trailed by 17 in the first quarter and eventually took it in 2OT. Every time an opponent’s lead has looked overwhelming to fans, the players themselves don’t even seem whelmed.

     

    Not off top of the head I suppose......

    Nope, I went Indiana Jones on the season and dug up all of the comebacks. This blog is my museum, and those comebacks belong in a museum!

    Cool, otherwise it'd be frigging crazy!  Still great tho.





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