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Pivot Points: The Bobcats' Dreams Of The Playoffs Are Slowly Fading Away

Hadarii JonesSenior Writer IFebruary 25, 2010

CHARLOTTE, NC - JANUARY 12:  Teammates Stephen Jackson #1 and Gerald Wallace #3 of the Charlotte Bobcats celebrate after a 102-94 victory over the Houston Rockets at Time Warner Cable Arena on January 12, 2010 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

The Charlotte Bobcats entered this season poised to capture their first playoff berth in the history of the team and a deal for Stephen Jackson seemed to push that further along.

However, in the past week, the Bobcats have awakened to a nightmare, losing four of their last five games, and being pushed out of the postseason picture.

Due to their athleticism and defensive nature, the Bobcats are perceived as the team no one wants to meet in the postseason, but it's hard to make noise in the playoffs if you fail to qualify.

What a difference a week makes. Six days ago the Bobcats were flying high after defeating the Cleveland Cavaliers in a game which captured the season series versus Cleveland.

Charlotte came crashing back to reality in the wake of a three game road trip which saw the Bobcats lose all three to the Milwaukee Bucks, the Los Angeles Clippers, and the Utah Jazz.

That losing streak jettisoned Charlotte from the sixth seed in the East to out of the playoffs, and if the Bobcats hope to re-establish themselves as a probable postseason team, the journey will begin on the road.

Away games have been the root of Charlotte's problems as their 7-22 record is almost a mirror image of their gaudy record of 20-7 in Time-Warner Arena, which is one of the bestย marksย in the league.

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It's too late for the Bobcats to transform into a great road team, but in order to reverse the current trend, more attention has to be paid to away games.

The 'Cats need to gain a greater sense of urgency.

Charlotte's problems on the road stem from an inability to execute their offense efficiently, and even when they do, the team is still prone to long scoreless stretches that prove fatal on the road.

Coach Larry Brown says the problems center around Jackson as the only member of the team capable of creating his own offense, and there may be merits in that concept, but a contingency plan is needed.

If other teams choose to double Jackson and prevent him from getting good looks at the basket, why not use him as a decoy and allow him to be the facilitator of the offense?

Well, Charlotte has tried that approach and it has usually worked to perfection except his teammates have been unable to convert their looks into points, and are forced to rely on the athleticism of Wallace and Jackson to pull them through.

But the duo can only accomplish so much, and it shows a lot about the talent level of the team when the newly acquired Tyrus Thomas has already assumed the role of the Bobcats' best threat in the paint.

However, Charlotte still has time to turn things around.

The only teams ahead of them in the standings which truly have a playoff shot are the Chicago Bulls and the Toronto Raptors.

The Bulls have found their stride of late, and their play has lifted them to the position that the Bobcats currently vacated, and the Raptors currently have their eyes set on eclipsing Boston in the Atlantic Division.

The Miami Heat who currently hold the seventh seed have been erratic all season, and the return of Dwyane Wade doesn't figure to propel them much further than their current position.

The Milwaukee Bucks hold a one game advantage over Charlotte for the eighth seed, and while the Bucks are a surging young team, their inexperience and inability to defend, leave them suspect to surrender their position.

So all is not lost for the Bobcats, but if they want to realize their dreams of the postseason, then the commitment level of the team has to rise.

The playoffs are definitely in reach for Charlotte, but do they have the will to snatch it?