Mathew Lewis: FICTION. Howard went for 20 and 24 the first time around back in late December, so it’s difficult to project the Bobcats from limiting him in both areas. If they can hold him to under 20 for one of the two I think they’ll take it.
Bryan Wendland: Will Charlotte’s bigs stop Super Man 2.0 from hauling in 20 rebounds? Yes… 20 points? Not a chance. Howard’s coming off a poor performance against the Knicks and I’m sure he see’s a monster night in his future when he looks at the defensive ineptitude that is the Bobcats’ front court. Some one be sure to send the rim a “get well soon” card after the game, because Howard is going to be throwing down on it all night.
Spencer Percy: No. I expect Dwight will have his way with the Bobcats front line as he did in Charlotte earlier in the season. Diop will certainly see many more minutes tonight, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see Biyombo get back into the rotation as he was the best defensively of any Bobcat in the last matchup.
2- Which Bobcat most needs to step up their, both in this game and going forward?
Mathew Lewis: Tyrus Thomas. Something’s up with him, but no one seems to know what it is. He played only 16 minutes yesterday in the loss to Cleveland and was ineffective outside of the three blocked shots he provided. Is he the player to limit Dwight Howard tonight? Probably not. But they need Tyrus to regain his form from last season, and to do it quickly.
Bryan Wendland: Of all the players on Charlotte’s roster, Corey Maggette needs to step up the most, because in the games that he’s played, the 12th year veteran hasn’t been the scorer the Bobcats thought he would be when they signed him this offseason. Of all the healthy players, though, Boris Diaw needs to get things going. He’s been a stat-stuffer this year, averaging 6.6 rebounds and 4.6 assists per game, but 8.4 points per contest just isn’t cutting it. Anything less than a 15 point performance from him tonight won’t be enough to get the Bobcats their fourth win of the season.
Spencer Percy: Tyrus Thomas. This team cannot afford another busted contract (5yr/$52mil for Thomas), but if Thomas continues to play like this and gets lucky to just see 20 minutes on the floor each night then early signs aren’t good.
3- Thoughts on the two headed point guard attack with D.J. and Kemba, and the Bobcats zone defense so far?
Mathew Lewis: The combination of D.J. Augustin and Kemba Walker in the starting lineup has certainly provided a boost of energy, but will it produce more wins? That’s certainly up for debate, though the team has shown slight improvements in both offensive and defensive efficiency since inserting Kemba into the starting lineup alongside Augustin. Yes, two games is a small sample size, but it’s still something to note.
Bryan Wendland: If anything, the Augustin and Walker combo is fun to watch. It’s been interesting to see Gerald Henderson playing more small forward, the move sent a message to Diaw and it helps Charlotte play to its strengths; youthful legs getting out in transition. The lineup switch also means Charlotte will have to play more zone, because putting Augustin or Walker on most opposing shooting guards would be a disaster. In the long run, I think a zone defense can’t be much worse than whatever the Bobcats thought defense was earlier this season and against bad shooting teams, it could lead to a couple of surprising wins. After watching Orlando torch the Knicks (17 made threes) from behind the three-point line Monday afternoon, it’s safe to say the ‘Cats will want to stay out of the zone as much as they can tonight.
Spencer Percy: I think that it will provide more wins for this team. If nothing else, it should certainly help this team get up and down the floor and be one of top PACE factor (7th currently) teams in the league, which Silas desires. Kemba being in the starting lineup should help cause more turnovers for the opposition, but will likely have the Bobcats see a decline in the rebounding category.