lauer inside 3/13/14
Lauer Sounds Off: Cats Could Get to 6

By Scott Lauer
March 13, 2014

Scott Lauer is the radio play-by-play voice of the Charlotte Bobcats. His column will appear on on Thursdays throughout the season. The opinions expressed here are his own and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Bobcats organization.

Head Coach Steve Clifford has given his men off today, as plenty of fine work has been done in the midst of a 12-games-in-20-nights stretch.

Following last night’s win in D.C., the Bobcats are now 31-34 and have proven to be the pleasant surprise in the Eastern Conference. They’ve already earned 10 more wins than last year, with 17 remaining! As Al Jefferson told me after the game, when the attention to defense is there, this team is very good. They yielded only 85 points to the Wizards, a team that had averaged 112 over the previous seven games.

Michael Kidd-Gilchrist contributed with a double-double (along with Jefferson’s 26 and 10 showing). MKG logged 10 points and 11 rebounds, leading all players on the boards. He played so well that he was part of the closing group last night.

With just over a month remaining in the regular season schedule, I can speak with confidence in saying that this will indeed be our second playoff berth in team history. The only intrigue will be which seed will we occupy. The Bobcats are playing better than most teams in the league over the past two months, and the record backs that assertion. Since January 14, the team is 16-11. Heading into Friday’s game against the Timberwolves, that’s an impressive two-month sample size.

Speaking of the action tomorrow night, the team is riding a seven-game home winning streak! It’s two away from matching a franchise record. Minnesota is a stout opponent at 32-31. They’d likely be even better if Nikola Pekovic didn’t miss a month with an ankle injury. He averages 18 points, and his burly frame on defense can be a challenge for any center, including Jefferson, who had a rare off night at the Target Center this season. As Jefferson mentioned to me, that game took place before he was back to his optimal shape, returning from the ankle sprain. Kevin Love averages 27 points and 13 rebounds -enough said.

So with 17 games remaining, I’ve peeked into my crystal ball to determine that the Bobcats will finish with 39 wins (they would need to win eight of the last 17 to achieve that figure, which is the same winning rate that they’ve set up to this point). There’s a chance that 39 wins will be good enough to rise to the 6-seed which would avoid a first round playoff series against the Indiana Pacers or Miami Heat. They currently sit 2 ½ games behind Washington for that position, and have two more games head-to-head with them. They’re also 2 ½ games up on Atlanta for seventh and also have a pair of games left against them. It’s such a fluid conference, with plenty of seed changes to come; similar to what happened last night, when Brooklyn surpassed Washington for fifth. The Nets are 3-0 against the Heat and have the best record in the conference since Jan. 1.

Lauer Blog Archive:
3/6/14: VIDEO: Chris Douglas-Roberts
2/27/14: VIDEO: Gary Neal
2/20/14: Next 6 Key for Cats
2/6/14: VIDEO: Bob Beyer
1/30/14: Big Al Deserves to be an All-Star
1/9/14: VIDEO: Ramon Sessions
1/9/14: VIDEO: Catching Up with Al Jefferson
12/26/13: Cats Focused on What's Ahead
12/19/13: Great December for Cats
12/12/13: VIDEO: Catching Up with Stephen Silas
12/5/13: VIDEO: Catching Up with Southerland
11/21/13: VIDEO: Catching Up with Adrien
11/14/13: Jefferson Returning to Form
11/7/13: Unsung Heroes Helping Early Success
11/1/13: Ready for Home Opener
10/2/13: Bench Will Be a Difference Maker
10/1/13: Jefferson Will Make an Impact