Since Steve Clifford was named the head coach of the Charlotte Bobcats this off-season, he has preached about improving the defense of the Bobcats. I’ll admit that, with this team returning most of what they had last season and adding two non-defensive big men, I was skeptical about how much could be done for Charlotte on that end of the floor after they were one of the worst teams in the NBA in that department last season.
On Monday night against the Chicago Bulls, though, the Bobcats continued to show that Clifford meant what he said about defense. Sure, the Bulls aren’t exactly an offensive juggernaut at the moment, Al Jefferson wasn’t playing and the Bobcats lost the game, but that doesn’t change what they’ve done all season and how they turned Monday’s game into a defensive battle.
For the game against Chicago, the Bobcats held the Bulls to only 86 points on the night and held Chicago to just 36 percent shooting and, though they allowed the Bulls to shoot 50 percent from three, limited them to just 12 attempts from long-range. They were outrebounded in this game and played shaky offense, which probably was the difference in the outcome, but there’s no question you have to respect the fight that Charlotte put up.
This defensive outing was no fluke for the Bobcats either. Through their first 11 games of the season, the Bobcats currently have the seventh best defensive rating in the league as they allow just 99.3 points per 100 possessions. Moreover, the Bobcats are much better with their transition defense this year, ranking in the top five in the league so far in fast break points allowed this season.
The Bobcats sit at just 5-6, but unlike last season, their defense is not their glaring issue. Even with Jefferson on the floor, Charlotte has still looked like a bit of a mess offensively and their statistical output only serves to back that up. However, if they can get their offense going while maintaining this level of defensive play, this is a team that could possibly sneak into a playoff spot in the East.