After a long film session and before practice began on Tuesday at the Orlando Sports Complex, Bobcats coach Larry Brown gathered his team in a huddle.
"Yesterday, Orlando took the day off," Brown said. "That's how seriously they're taking us."
As the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference, Charlotte Bobcats know their places as underdogs against the Orlando Magic. The Bobcats trail the best of seven series 0-1 heading into Wednesday's game. Heading into Game 2, Charlotte has overcome its pre-playoff nerves and isn't giving the Magic, or its players, any kind of star treatment.
"Nobody really expects us to win this series … the Magic, Orlando, most of the country, except the good people of Charlotte," Bobcats center Tyson Chandler said. "We already know that. We don't have any pressure on us. They got the pressure."
Playing the franchise's first playoff game, with a roster lacking much playoff experience, the Bobcats felt pressure entering the series.
Guard Stephen Jackson, one of Charlotte's few playoff veterans, remembered the locker room being quiet and tight Sunday evening before Game 1. The Bobcats started the game focused intensely on Magic center Dwight Howard, and in the meantime got burned by point guard Jameer Nelson. By the time Charlotte settled down, Orlando had a double-digit lead.
From that game the Bobcats learned they needn't be so tight nor so singularly focused on the two-time defending Defensive Player of the Year.
"Dwight's gonna be Dwight," said forward Gerald Wallace, who finished third in Defensive Player of the Year voting. "We can't treat him like he's Michael Jordan or somebody. Our bigs gotta help our guards."
Practice focused on that concept. Jackson practiced after sitting out Monday with a small bone bruise on his left knee. He hyperextended his knee after a collision with Wallace in the second quarter of Game 1. Jackson did not wear a brace on his knee.
"No brace at all — brace is a mental thing with me," Jackson said. "It'll let me know that something's wrong."
Brown's comments to his team before practice were about a mental thing, too. And his players insist they don't care who thinks they can win.
"We don't care about that," Wallace said. "We're worried about us. They do what they want to do. We're the Bobcats. We're the only thing we can control, and we'll move from there."