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Blogcat's Take, 4/23

Regarding games one and two of the Hornets-Heat series, there’s probably nothing new or enlightening I can add. The last time I saw such utterly one-sided destruction, it was initiated by Cylons:

I also don’t have anything consoling to offer to fellow fans. This type of abuse, particularly by the Heat, and particularly at the hands of the nefarious Dwyane Wade, pretty much incinerates my soul:

If it makes you feel any better, it’s very unlikely you had a worse sports day on Wednesday than I did. Chances are you’re a Panthers fan—same here, and I have the reduced life expectancy to prove it—so you were probably also dealing with the inexplicable, unprecedented, and un-whatever-Don-King-like-adjective-you-want-to-add decision by Carolina to ditch Josh Norman. That happened in the afternoon, and then the Hornets’ red wedding followed. But it is the rare breed of masochistic sicko who not only worships the Hornets and Panthers, but who also devotes himself to Everton soccer. And for those freaks, Wednesday was a triple-bloodbath monstrosity, as Everton were basically lit on fire and sacrificed like goats in a ritualistic 4-0 massacre against cross-town (and much better) rivals Liverpool. That happened in the morning, then Norman’s release in the afternoon, then the Hornets-Heat savagery that night—plus Nic Batum’s injury, which I almost count as its own separate tragedy. When it was all over, I didn’t really “go” to bed that night; it’s more like I just “face-planted” to bed, and I stayed face-down for several hours.

So I don’t know really what else to do at this point, other than count the statistical dead. Offensive play hasn’t been the problem, at least in terms of results. In the two games so far, the Hornets have averaged 106.7 points per 100 possessions, which is actually better than their 105.1 regular season rating. Something clearly is off—mainly the 3-point shooting and basically everything Marvin Williams touches—but if this type of efficiency had resulted in two wins, we’d all be hailing Coach Steve Clifford and the team for their extraordinary powers to adjust. I mean, all year the team had a 105.1 offensive rating based on 34.8% of their shots being 3-point tries, and then they completely reinvent themselves in the playoffs by barely even attempting treys—just 21.4% of their attempts so far have been from long-range—and they actually improve…amazing!

Oh, if I could just end things there. Oh, if Michael Jordan could have just ended things in 1998. Unfortunately, this column has to have a 40-year-old-Jordan-with-the-Wizards section, and probably even a GM-Jordan-drafts-Kwame-Brown section. So let’s just rip the band-aid off right here: defensively, the Hornets have surrendered 132.3 points per 100 possessions (stats courtesy of NBA.com), and “surrender” is probably too strong a word. “Surrendering” is what the Japanese did in World War 2, and even then there were stories of guys in island jungles years later, unaware that the war was over. For a team like the Hornets to go from the 9th-best defensive rating of 101.8 during the regular season to…this…it’s like watching Ickey Woods do the Ickey Shuffle for GEICO commercials.

And yet, I don’t get the sense that the Hornets have been at fault for this debacle-ular defensive downfall—or, at least, mostly at fault. I am not very good at understanding tactics, especially when it comes to defense. And this is definitely overly simplified, but if you’re playing defense and you’re covering whoever is shooting, you’ve basically done your job. If the guy makes the shot, then hey, give him credit. So with that in mind, here are some of the covered/uncovered Miami shots stats for four games—the two regular season Hornet wins over the Heat, and the two playoff losses to the Heat:

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Okay, even though I already put out a disclaimer, I want to further disclaim what I’m claiming. This chart is overly-overly simplified. It says nothing about the degree to which someone is covered or uncovered, or who is covered or uncovered, or what type of shot is covered or uncovered, or when in the game it occurred, or ANYTHING. But having said all that…just look at it! In the third row, the first playoff game, one of the worst losses I’ve ever angrily pressed the “off” button on in the third quarter and stomped around my room and pouted about, the Hornets arguably did their best job in terms of covering down on their man, only allowing 34% open looks. Their man just happened to score every freaking shot, no matter who their man was. In the second playoff game, the last row, the Hornets weren’t quite as tight as they were in game 1, allowing 41% open looks. But they were by no means horrible, either; in fact they allowed fewer open shots than they did in their December 9th win. The Heat just really made the Hornets pay for it by making a scorching 61% of those open shots, and they were still lighting it up even when they were covered. What are you going to do? The Heat are just making shots from everywhere, covered or not. I feel much more like giving Miami credit than I feel like criticizing the Hornets.

Mostly, I just feel like throwing someone—possibly myself—out of a window. It does make me feel slightly better that it’s the other team just playing well rather than my team playing terribly. But only in the sense that it probably made Conan the Barbarian’s father feel slightly better that he got to tell his son he loved him before having a pot of burning molten lava dumped on his face. I also wonder why it is I’m so excited to have my team make the playoffs if ultimately I end up just feeling worse. Back to the Panthers, last year was a dream season until it ended in a Freddy Krueger-esque nightmare, and instead of cherishing the 95% of it that was joyful, I mostly don’t ever want to think about it again. It doesn’t help that I have the type of boss who’s not really even a sports fan, and who probably hadn’t even heard of Cam Newton prior to the Super Bowl, but who now makes a point of coming to my office each day and continuing to rub it in, because he noticed I have a Cam Newton poster on my wall. God forbid the Hornets ever lose in the finals, because not only do I have posters, but bobble-heads, baseball caps, a gigantic print of Muggsy Bogues that’s possibly larger than he is, and random memorabilia like a 1994 Larry Johnson Starting Lineup figure stapled near my light-switch. I’m practically begging for a wedgie.

Well, I’m pretty sure that won’t be a problem this year. And maybe a few years down the road, I’ll be able to savor what my two teams did this year (my two American teams, at least—Everton are a streaking shit smear, and will be for the foreseeable future). But if I could do a stats table of my own life, it would be that for every single game my team has lost, the % Sucks would be 100.

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    They probably spent all their energy right out of the gate and perhaps got complacent and thought it's gonna be easy.


    Now Whiteside the playoffs virgin got hurt, the old farts are tired and their lack of depth at the PG position is exposed.


    ~lol~ at your boss!