Rufus on Fire / Queen City Hoops / Bobcats Baseline / Charlotte Observer
The Pacers lead the Bobcats by one game and lead the Bucks by two games for the final playoff spot. Indiana hosts the Boston tonight, so this could be a prime opportunity for one of these teams to make up a game in the "race" for the final playoff spot.
Tiebreaker to Milwaukee. The Bucks have won the first two matchups with the Bobcats at the Bradley Center, and as such, they will hold the tiebreaker because this is the final time these teams play each other. The first win over Charlotte was the 98-88 home opener back in October. Then Milwaukee won again, 104-101, about a month later to stop a five-game losing streak.
Milwaukee getting to play two out of three this year at home against Charlotte is mighty important. Last season, Charlotte had the largest discrepancy in the NBA between its home (31-10) and road (13-28) records. While the team's home (18-17) and road (12-25) splits are not as dramatic this season, the Bobcats have enjoyed a massive home court advantage the past few years despite ranking 26th, 25th, and now 21st in attendance. Then again, if the Bucks lose in Charlotte tonight, it probably won't matter that they hold the tiebreaker, and Milwaukee has lost three straight in Charlotte.
To streak or not to streak. The aforementioned five-game losing streak from back in November actually stands as the longest of the season for Milwaukee -- and the team still has yet to win more than three in a row all season. The Bucks have been schizophrenically up and down on a day-to-day basis this season, never stringing together many wins or losses. The Bobcats meanwhile have had a longer losing streak (six games) and longer winning streak (four games) than the Bucks, and they come into tonight on this run: two wins, six losses, two wins, four losses, two wins.
Low and high. Charlotte's two straight wins are a low-scoring win against the very good defensive team in the Celtics (83-81), and a high-scoring win against a bad defensive team in the Knicks (114-106).
Points Points. Brandon Jennings has played better offensively against the Bobcats than against any other team this season -- averaging 26.5 points, 8.5 assists, and 6.0 rebounds on 55.2 % shooting, 56.3 % on threes, and 91.7 % from the line in two wins. But point guard counterpart D.J. Augustin has also ripped it up just the same, averaging 26.0 points, 5.5 assists, and 2.0 rebounds on 64.3 % shooting, 50.0 % on threes, and 100.0 % at the line.
Charlotte signs Temple for rest of season. The Bobcats have signed friend Garrett Temple for the rest of the season, per Temple's twitter (link-tip: Rufus on Fire). Temple has played in just a couple of Bobcat games so far and has yet to score for his newest team. Temple's season highlight remains his fine Bucks debut in a home win over the Hawks (the Three Bucks that game were Earl Boykins, Corey Maggette, and Garrett Temple -- the lost recipe, obviously).
Tyrus Thomas likely to return tonight. The Charlotte Observer reports that Tyrus Thomas (bruised ribs) is expected to be available tonight.
Jordan does not want Bobcats to be seventh or eight seed. Since trading away star forward Gerald Wallace approximately one month ago, the Bobcats have gone 4-10. And the title of this story is somewhat misleading because owner Michael Jordan defended the deadline deal by saying "we don't want to be the seventh or eight seed." Not long after that, Gerald Wallace described the trade as a "stab in the back" and said about GM Rod Higgins, "I don't even want to comment on that guy." Max drama.
In any event, Wallace just dropped 40 points on Oklahoma City in a loss yesterday, so it appears that he is moving along nicely in Portland now. But the fact that Charlotte -- trailing Indiana by just a game and ahead of Milwaukee by a game -- could make the playoffs despite not wanting to make the playoffs is amusing of course, but it also doesn't reflect very well on Milwaukee, a team allegedly trying to make the playoffs...