With the Charlotte Bobcats 1-2 start on this season it is still too early to tell what the identity of the team truly is or what direction they may ultimately go. Part of the reason for this is the team's health, particularly their biggest free agent (literally and figuratively) Al Jefferson who has been hobbled by a bum ankle since the second preseason game.
The Bobcats were able to win there first home game against a gritty Cleveland Cavaliers team in the final minutes but they have struggled mightily on the road so far, losing by an average of 17 points in those two contests. Jefferson started the first game in Houston but he will admit that his game wasn't as effective as he'd like it to be.
When asked about his thoughts on Charlotte's road woes, coach Steve Clifford said, "The biggest thing and what we're focused on is developing a game and a group mindset where we can go on the road and play well for 48 minutes, that's the biggest challenge."
The Bobcats are a team that historically has had very little success away from their home floor but given the assembly of talent on this season's roster, Clifford was asked if he thought youth was contributing to the 0-2 road start so far. "It's not our youth because we went to Houston and played an excellent 43 out of 48 minutes, so we just need to work on playing 48 out of 48," he said.
Clifford continued, "If you have the right mindset and the right game and you stay with your game plan, I don't think youth has anything to do with your performance, we just need to figure out how to get a full game in." That is exactly what the coaching staff has been preaching over the past two days of practice, 'the importance of starting strong and finishing even stronger.'
The Bobcats visit Madison Square Garden tonight where Carmelo Anthony and the New York Knicks will look to keep Charlotte out of the road win column.
When asked how he felt about his team's mentality going into tonight's game Clifford said, "We have an edge and I like the fight in our team." He continued, "Whenever things go poorly or really well, you always look for the response in your team and we were less than our best in New Orleans. These guys are disappointed and I think we'll come out and play well against the Knicks."
Al Jefferson is a game time decision for the game but coaches are not sure how much he can contribute even he is in uniform. Tip-off is at 7:30 pm ET tonight and the game will be televised on Fox Sports South.