Charlotte Bobcats, surprisingly good defenders, want to buckle down on defense

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There was a decent amount of debate about the Charlotte Bobcats before the season.

Would they compete for the NBA’s best lottery odds, or would they slip lower in the lottery?

Instead, Charlotte has shocked the Eastern Conference by starting the season 14-15, not a great mark but still fourth-best in the conference.

And it’s totally because of defense.

The Bobcats’ offense ranks 29th in the NBA, ahead of only the Bucks. Their defense ranks third, behind only the the Pacers and Thunder.

But Charlotte has slipped a little, allowing its last three opponents – Bucks, Jazz and Pistons – to score more points per possession than they’re each averaging for the season.

So, with a few days off between games, Bobcats coach Steve Clifford is preaching defense. Clifford, via Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer:

“We worked on it today – just getting our defense organized,” Clifford said Thursday. “When we’ve gotten back, for the most part, our defense has been good. The other night we did a poor job of that. So today we watched film, worked on it, and hopefully it will get better.”

“We are making mistakes on cuts and coverages that we haven’t had,” Clifford said after the game. “I told them you can’t get away from that.”

Clifford, a first-year coach, has done an incredible job implementing his defensive system – and this shows exactly why.

The Bobcats have plenty of room to improve offensively, but that’s not where they’re focusing. They’re all about defense, something they already do well.

It really seems the entire team has bought into a defense-first approach, and that was the first step to reaching this level. The next step is ironing out the kinks.

And then maybe the Bobcats will get around to repairing that ugly offense. Or maybe they’ll work more on their defense.