Who: Charlotte Bobcats vs Toronto Raptors
What: NBA Basketball – Bobcats Home Game
When: 7:00 PM ET
Where: Live at Time Warner Cable Arena
|Charlotte||5-4||99.1 (20)||101.1 (17)||96.6 (6)|
|Toronto||3-8||100.5 (15)||103.8 (24)||93.6 (24)|
Charlotte: Ben Gordon (DOUBTFUL), Gerald Henderson (OUT), Tyrus Thomas (OUT)
Toronto: Landry Fields (OUT)
|PG||Kemba Walker||Jose Calderon|
|SG||Jeffery Taylor||DeMar DeRozan|
|SF||Michael Kidd-Gilchrist||Dominic McGuire|
|PF||Byron Mullens||Andrea Bargnani|
|C||Brendan Haywood||Jonas Valanciunas|
|6th Man||Ramon Sessions||Kyle Lowry|
Well, here we are, nine games into the season and the Bobcats are one game north of .500. Anyone that thought that would be the case on Thanksgiving eve, I tip my hat to you. Tonight, Charlotte welcomes in a struggling Toronto Raptors club that will play their fourth game in five nights in the ‘Cable Box’. To add insult to injury for the Raptors, they dropped a very tough game last night in Philadelphia that they controlled for all of about 41 minutes of the contest. After the Bobcats comeback victory over Milwaukee on Monday night, they look to avoid a letdown and continue to take advantage of this home stretch with another victory against what would appear to be a lesser, and fatigued, Toronto Raptors team. Blake Murphy of the TrueHoop blog ‘Raptors Republic‘ joins Brett and I to preview tonight’s game.
1- STATS: Toronto ranks in the bottom half of most statistical categories, including defensive efficiency (103.8; 24th), which is surprising considering this is a Dwayne Casey coached team. One thing Toronto (and Charlotte) does well is take care of the basketball and only turns it over 12.3% of their possessions- that’s good for 2nd in the league. What’s going to be the most important statistical category for the Raptors to win tonight in order to slow down the surging Bobcats?
Spencer: Toronto will have to really slow down this game tonight to have a chance. One, because Charlotte wants to play fast and Toronto executes better in the half court. Two, because the Raptors enter tonight seemingly fatigued and tired due to this being their fourth game in five nights. Limit turnovers and don’t get beat on the boards- and these are two categories Toronto is respectable in, so getting the nods in these categories isn’t unthinkable. Wouldn’t be surprised to see Dwayne Casey show Charlotte some kind of zone look to slow down Kemba at getting to the rim.
Blake Murphy (Raptors Republic): Honestly, it’s not an advanced stats but it may be minutes, as in, how many minutes is Kyle Lowry ready to play. He returned from injury last night and played 30 minutes off the bench behind Jose Calderon. If he’s good to play a sizable chunk of minutes, it would go a long way in helping to slow down Charlotte’s offensively gifted guards. If you are thinking more advanced stats, the Bobcats have the second lowest rate of assisted field goals in the league whereas the Raptors allow the fourth largest ratio of assisted field goals. Basically, the Bobcats like to go Isolation and the Raptors have generally forced teams away from this. If they can make the Bobcats share the ball, it will be to their benefit.
Brett: There hasn’t been a consistent key to the Bobcat’s defeats – against Dallas and Phoenix, it was hot 3 point shooting, and against Memphis and New Orleans it was (partially) keeping the Bobcats off the free throw line. Which one will work better for the Raptors? Well, I’ll say 3 pointers, as Bargnani is off to a slow start this year, but could get hot at any point (and while Byron has dialed back his attempts from deep, this matchup could get him to edge back out there).
2- GIVING THANKS: Which player are you most thankful for on your respective team so far this season?
Spencer: Ramon Sessions. This is looking like it has a chance to be the best free agent signing that the Bobcats have ever made. Sessions is averaging 23.9 P/40 min, 6.1 A/40 & 5.1 R/40. He’s sporting a PER of 20.02 which is best for top-50 in the league and has a Usage Rate of 27.3- that means that Charlotte is basically going through Sessions in 27.3% of their offensive possessions. To put his Usage Rate stat in perspective, Sessions ranks 10th in the league among Usage % and is basically relied on as much by the Bobcats for offense as the Heat rely on Lebron James (27.9).
Blake: The predominant answer may be Kyle Lowry, since he’s been everyone’s favorite player since arriving. But I’m most thankful for Jose Calderon, who the team was likely trying their best to deal once they acquired Lowry in the offseason. Calderon was the team’s best player with Lowry out and remains a consummate professional and guy you love to cheer for (my dog’s name is Jose, for the record).
Brett: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. He hasn’t been the Bobcats best player (though he has been very good), but he has helped bring life back to the team, with his relentless energy at both ends of the court. Watching a Kemba-MKG fast break is a real pleasure, and after last season, I’m thankful for it.
3- PICK IT: The Raptors will play their fourth game in five nights and also come into Charlotte tonight on the backend of a back-to-back. The Bobcats look to make it five wins in their last six games and improve to two games above .500 tonight in the ‘Cable Box’. Who wins, and why?
Spencer: Bobcats. Raptors have got to be running on extremely tired legs and are coming off a heart breaking loss last night in Phila. Charlotte can actually blow this game open tonight if they get out and run- the key to this will come from dominating the defensive glass and creating turnovers, neither of which the Bobcats do well, but if Charlotte forces the tempo up in this game it’s hard to imagine Toronto being able to run up-and-down the floor a whole lot tonight.
Blake: Bobcats win due to Raptor fatigue and the hangover from playing their main guys big minutes the night before trying to get the win (and failing, ugh).
Brett: I’ll take the Bobcats on the strength of their recent defense. Toronto is going to be tired and the Cats relatively fresh, so the Bobcats hustle/chaos defense could get some easy baskets and lead them to a win. It will be interesting to watch Kemba go up against Jose Calderon – two very different styles.