The playoffs are uncharted territory for the Charlotte Bobcats. SB Nation's Bobcats blog Rufus On Fire asks you to come aboard now before the bandwagon grows.
Your favorite team didn't make the NBA playoffs. My condolences. Is that how we do this? My favorite team, the Charlotte Bobcats, have never played in the postseason, so I'm unfamiliar with this side of the conversation.
If you haven't watched the Bobcats this year, you might wonder how in the world they managed to get into the playoffs without a go-to scorer. Sure, Stephen Jackson takes a ton of shots, and Gerald Wallace is a runaway train on the break, but neither of those guys are anyone's idea of an elite scorer. On top of that, wasn't Larry Brown last seen trying to play Stephon Marbury alongside Steve Francis?
Ignore the negative connotations of the preceding and trust me: you'll love them.
What they do is play elite defense and adequate -- but surprisingly entertaining -- offense. In other words, Charlotte is primed to be America's darling as they "scrap" their way to a competitive first round series. The truth is, though, that every team in the NBA would have trouble scoring against a defense with shot blockers like Tyson Chandler and Theo Ratliff sharing time in the paint, long athletic wings like Jackson and Wallace hounding swingmen, Tyrus Thomas off the bench, all supported by coach Brown's philosophical dedication to defense.
How is the offense entertaining? While the primary benefit of building around guys like Wallace, Jackson, Chandler, Boris Diaw and Raymond Felton is a tremendous defense that gets tons of steals, the upshot is that the offense is based on the players' top-tier athleticism. The Bobcats take advantage of their speed and hops to put the ball on the floor and go to the rim more than just about every other team in the league, so each trip down the floor is a hold-your-breath affair. Unlike the Magic, who will dump the ball to Dwight Howard and have him shoot a running hook shot or kick it back out for a three attempt, the Cats' offense is far more fluid, depending on players to create new paths to the basket for dunk after layup after dunk. You never know how the slasher is going to get to the goal, just that he will. Paired with the stifling defense, opponents wear down and make more mistakes as the game goes on, and the Cats capitalize.
So now you know they play a connoisseur's brand of basketball. But there's one more big reason to root for the Bobcats. Basically, because of the ugly Hornets divorce, native Charlotteans tend not to have embraced this team. No matter what, we'll probably have to wait for today's children to grow up as Bobcats fans before the team truly takes hold in the region and begins to challenge the Panthers for pro sports primacy.
There's room on the bandwagon, and I'm begging, so I'm not choosy; even if the Cats are your second, or third, or fourth favorite team, come aboard. Because Bobcats fans are so few and far between, we're inherently welcoming. No other fan base can say the same, so no other fan base will take you in so readily. Join us, even if only for the playoffs.