Queen City Hoops

Heat 101, Bobcats 97: Miami barely edges Charlotte in Game 2

Charlotte Bobcats 97 FinalRecap | Box Score 101 Miami Heat
Josh McRoberts, PF 37 MIN | 3-7 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 4 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 8 PTS | +14

McRoberts made the most of the three-pointers he took, but he was a little too hesitant when he found himself wide open. Some of that has to do with the Heat’s ability to recover and challenge shots on defense, but he still needs to keep Miami from getting too complacent.

On the other hand, his passing was as strong as usual and he mixed in a few nice drives. He’s also lucky he didn’t get a flagrant foul for a late elbow to LeBron’s head – I doubt it’ll lead to a suspension, but I’m sure the refs will be paying more attention to him in the future.

Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, SF 34 MIN | 9-13 FG | 4-5 FT | 10 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 3 TO | 22 PTS | +11

MKG’s best game of the season, bar none. The Heat defense generally played off of him and gave help elsewhere, and it’s encouraging that Kidd-Gilchrist responded by attacking the basket. His defense on LeBron was very good as well, but James still put up a 32-8-6 line. It’s important to look at the process and not the product, though — Kidd-Gilchrist did an excellent job of limiting James while still offering help elsewhere, and the defense as a whole looked very spotty when he wasn’t on the floor. He’s not going to score 22 points every game, but if he get minutes he’ll still have a big impact.

Al Jefferson, C 40 MIN | 9-23 FG | 0-0 FT | 13 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 18 PTS | +2

This is probably more of a B game, but Big Al gets a perfect score for gutting out what looks like an incredibly painful foot injury. He clearly had trouble establishing deep position, but still managed to score where he could and bullied the Heat on the boards.

He drew double-teams while playing on one leg. A+ game, A+ year.

Kemba Walker, PG 45 MIN | 5-18 FG | 2-2 FT | 3 REB | 8 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 16 PTS | +2

This was the ultimate Kemba game, good and bad. Decent but inefficient scoring, some good playmaking, excellent ballhandling with relatively few turnovers, solid defense, clutch clutch clutch.

On the whole, though, the team will need more from him if they want to steal a game. He was oddly passive in the first half, with five of his seven shots coming from three-point range, then went nuts in the second frame. He was actually just a little too aggressive, forcing up some wild shots with the night on the line. Hopefully he can make some adjustments before the next game.

Gerald Henderson, SG 32 MIN | 5-11 FG | 5-7 FT | 4 REB | 1 AST | 3 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 15 PTS | -1

Gerald’s best games come when he gets to the line, and he had the benefit of the whistle tonight. His overall game is solid enough that he’s usually a plus, but it’s hard not to watch him and wish he was just a bit better on either side of the ball.

Anthony Tolliver, PF 7 MIN | 1-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 3 PTS | -9

One three-point attempt, one three-point make. These were just spot minutes, but I think it’d be nice to see him get a little more burn. The team needs shooting from somewhere, especially when Gary Neal is having an off night.

Cody Zeller, C 11 MIN | 1-2 FG | 1-2 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 3 PTS | -15

The statline looks better than the tape. He spent most of the night flying around the court, at one point flinging himself at least 15 feet into the crowd after tipping in an offensive rebound. He also fell down a few times for no reason, which is somehow becoming a trend for him in this series. It’s hard to blame him for some playoff jitters, but the bench is so much better when he’s giving them solid minutes. Just relax, Cody.

Luke Ridnour, PG 3 MIN | 1-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 3 PTS | -6Ridnour only got three minutes of playing time, which is a pretty good indicator of how bad he looked. Addressing back-up point guard should be one of the top priorities in the offseason.

Gary Neal, SG 15 MIN | 1-8 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 3 PTS | -17

Neal followed up Saturday’s very solid game with a complete botch. His usually reliable floater wasn’t falling, and the jumper wasn’t much better — and when Neal isn’t scoring, he doesn’t have much else to offer.

His bad pass in the game’s final seconds also iced the game for Miami, which put a crap exclamation point on an overall crap night.

Chris Douglas-Roberts, SG 16 MIN | 2-4 FG | 2-3 FT | 4 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 6 PTS | -1

CDR had some pretty good minutes spelling Henderson, and he fits in relatively well next to the other starters. Playing him next to MKG gives Charlotte a decent option on a night when they need shooting and aren’t getting it from Neal.

Bismack Biyombo, C DNP COACH’S DECISION MIN | FG | FT | REB | AST | STL | BLK | TO | PTS |

Biyombo picking up a DNP-CD on a night when Al Jefferson was hurting can’t give him much confidence. Still probably the right call.

Two Things We Saw

  1. Tonight reflected a problem Charlotte’s had all year: They have a very strong starting unit, but generally get let down by the bench. Four of the team’s five starters had a positive +/-, and Gerald Henderson was the only exception at -1. The Bobcats squandered a good start over the final 5:30 in the first quarter, dropping from a tie game to a 10-point deficit. They’d go on to tie or win every quarter after that.It’ll be interesting to see what the front office does this offseason. While they could bring in a scoring wing or find more offensive production at power forward, grabbing a steady veteran or two or three for the bench might be more important.
  2. The ending was obviously a disappointment, but this was still an amazing game for Charlotte. There were so many times the team could have packed it in, and they closed the gap every time. It’s looking more likely they’ll be able to steal one in Charlotte, even with a hobbled Al Jefferson.

GAME #2: Bobcats @ Heat 3-on-3 Preview

Who: Miami Heat vs Charlotte Bobcats — Game 2: 1st Round of NBA Eastern Conference Playoffs

What: NBA Basketball – Heat Home Game

When: 7:00 PM ET

Where: Live at American Airlines Arena, Miami, FL

The Matchup: (Post-season ratings)

Record Offensive
Miami 1-0 109.5 (5) 96.4 (3) 90.9 (13)
Charlotte 0-1 96.4 (14) 109.5 (12) 90.9 (13)

Previous Meetings:
Game #1: 99-88 Heat

Miami: Mario Chalmers (Questionable)
Charlotte: Al Jefferson (Questionable)

Starting Lineups

Heat Bobcats
PG Mario Chalmers Kemba Walker
SG Dwyane Wade Gerald Henderson
SF Lebron James Michael Kidd-Gilchrist
PF Udonis Haslem Josh McRoberts
C Chris Bosh Al Jefferson
6th Man Ray Allen Gary Neal

3-on-3 TrueHoop NetworkGreg Pietras, Michael Kaskey-Blomain, and Spencer Percy go all-in on a 3-on-3 preview to get you ready for game two in Miami tonight.

1- What will look the most different from the Bobcats in game two if Jefferson is as limited as we all fear?

Percy: Probably the volume of post-touches for Charlotte, which is scary because that is where their offense operates from. I have a theory that Clifford could elect to sit Jefferson, concede tonight’s game, and hope he’s healthy enough to help the Bobcats take two at home starting Saturday night. This theory is only valid if the extra three days of rest will actually benefit Jefferson’s overall health.

Jefferson quotes in shoot-around this morning:

“I can’t say there won’t be some kind of pain. But I feel like every hour it’s getting better and better.”

“It’s responding really well. I should be good for tonight.”

Clifford quote on Jefferson health from this morning:

“If he can be effective, we’ll play him. If not, we’ll get him out.”

If the Bobcats are indeed without Jefferson tonight, or at least with a limited Big Al, then Charlotte will have to run it’s offense through their guards – Kemba Walker and Gary Neal. I would guess that the Bobcats try to play small – a PnR oriented offense with a dribble-drive, kick concept would be the simple/quick solution. This would mean many more minutes for Anthony Tolliver, CDR, and maybe even Jannero Pargo.

Pietras: If Jefferson is really struggling out there, I think we’ll see more of the McRoberts/Zeller frontcourt. That might not be a bad idea, anyway — Zeller is athletic enough to chase Chris Bosh out to the perimeter, and the Heat don’t really have a bruising big man that can take advantage of his size. We might also see more shooting on the floor, with Gary Neal and especially Anthony Tolliver getting more time. Kemba will also probably take more than 15 shots.

Kaskey-Blomain: If Jefferson is limited as feared, the Bobcats entire offensive attack will be different. Jefferson presents the sole mismatch in the series working in Charlotte’s favor with his size and strength in the post. If the offense can’t be run through big Al, it will become much more perimeter-oriented, which plays to the Heat’s favor. Jefferson scored 8 early points on Sunday before he got hurt, as the Bobcats fed him early and often. The Heat don’t have a direct answer for him defensively, but they have plenty of options for Charlotte’s perimeter players. If Jefferson is limited, the Bobcats’ entire offensive approach will be altered, unfortunately, in the Heat’s favor.

2- What’s the most important Miami trait for Charlotte to takeaway in order to have a chance to even this series tonight?

Percy: Miami free-throw attempts. I know it’s difficult to keep James & Wade away from the rim off the dribble, but it has to be done if Charlotte wants a chance. The Heat knocked down 11 threes on Sunday because of the fact that they were able to collapse the defense off of dribble-penetration. It didn’t really happen until the second half, as Charlotte did a nice job of walling off the lane in the first half, but it pours when Miami finally does start getting the ball to the rim – it poured on the Bobcats in the form of an 18-4 4th quarter run on Sunday.

Pietras:  Free throws or three-point shooting, take your pick. Miami shot 11-of-23 from three and 18-of-26 at the line in Game 1, and getting to the line really helped float their offense when they were otherwise struggling. As far as how Charlotte can limit their free throws, coach Clifford is suggesting they foul less. Seems airtight.

Kaskey-Blomain: If Charlotte can limit Miami’s fast-break points then they should give themselves an opportunity to stay in the game. Miami loves to get out and run, especially off of defensive rebounds, and that sparks a whole lot of their offense. Miami only had 6 fast break points in the first game, and Charlotte was able to keep it close. If they can again limit Miami’s production off the break and force them to execute in the half-court, they will give themselves a shot.

3- Does Miami go up 2-0, or can the Bobcats steal one in South Beach and even this thing at 1-1? Why will the game ultimately swing in either direction?

Percy: I have a hard time believing that Charlotte will be very successful without an effective Al Jefferson tonight. Ultimately, it’s going to take an above-average offensive effort from the Bobcats and a perfect defensive effort. Charlotte has to limit turnovers in order to take away transition opportunities for Miami and rebound the defensive glass with a purpose. Guarding without fouling is very difficult to do with the Heat because of the way they will attack the rim, but it’s vital for the Bobcats chances – always be cognizant of helping your teammate defensively one-pass-away to protect the gaps + rotations have to be perfect to limit open three-point attempts for Miami.

I think Charlotte will play inspired and end up hanging tough in this game, but I’m being a realist and accepting we’re likely going to be without an effective Big Al. 102-90 Miami.

Pietras: I’d love to be optimistic, but nope. I’m a little more hopeful that they can steal one back in Charlotte, after Al Jefferson gets more rest, but Miami does a good job of ironing out the kinks. Another strong effort and I’ll be happy.

Kaskey-Blomain: This would be a great game for the Bobcats to steal in Miami, but I don’t see it happening. The Heat didn’t look into it early on in the first game, but they snapped into it by the second half. As the Heat continue to push further into playoff mode they will be increasingly difficult to beat. A limited Al Jefferson will also hurt Charlotte, as big performances from Big Al will be necessary Charlotte wants to pull an upset. In the end, I see Miami just being too much for Charlotte, especially offensively, in game 2, and taking a 2-0 lead in the series.

Bobcats drop game 1 in Miami; Jefferson injured

Charlotte Bobcats 88 Final
Recap | Box Score
99 Miami Heat
Josh McRoberts, PF Shot Chart 37 MIN | 6-9 FG | 0-0 FT | 7 REB | 4 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 15 PTS | -1

He was excellent all day. McBob is usually good when he finds a way to make most of his three-point attempts, and he was today. He picked his spots just about perfectly, reading what the defense was giving him. McBob had a monster dunk on Birdman in the 4th quarter that really made it all worth it for me today.

– Video per NBA.com

Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, SF Shot Chart 15 MIN | 2-4 FG | 1-1 FT | 7 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 5 PTS | +8

Most expected that MKG’s minutes would be limited in this series, especially if the Bobcats were trailing in the second half, which they were. His effort on the offensive glass was the most impressive and gave something for Charlotte to walk away from on ugly possessions today. Can’t ask for a ton more from MKG in these kinds of minutes.

Al Jefferson, C Shot Chart 35 MIN | 9-17 FG | 0-0 FT | 10 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 2 BLK | 0 TO | 18 PTS | -11

Jefferson reportedly has a strained plantar fascia. It happened in the first half and Big Al told reporters after the game that he had to have two shots just in order to return to the game. When he did return, he wasn’t anywhere close to 100% and only went 2-6 from the floor in the second half.

It is a popular thought that Jefferson’s strain is technically a partial tear, which is apparently common – I wouldn’t know. It’s going to be extremely painful, but Jefferson claims that he will play through the injury. My understanding is that this injury could potentially get worse by playing on it, so it will be very interesting to see how the team handles this.

We all want Big Al to play and know that Charlotte has zero chance to even steal a game without him, but he’s also the foundation of the franchise at this point – how much do you want to risk moving forward if you’re the front office.

Kemba Walker, PG Shot Chart 38 MIN | 6-15 FG | 5-6 FT | 5 REB | 6 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 6 TO | 20 PTS | 0

Kemba loves the games and moments where the intensity is ratcheted up – he’s likely going to have inflated shooting numbers in this series. That being said, he got a little ahead of himself today in spots and it led to 6 turnovers. Miami will blitz Kemba on a ton of PnR’s and he didn’t necessarily show the composure to handle their pressure on every occasion today.

Gerald Henderson, SG Shot Chart 32 MIN | 3-9 FG | 0-1 FT | 8 REB | 3 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 6 PTS | 0

Sigh. Very frustrating watching Hendo be very passive offensively and allow D-Wade to abuse him by getting wherever he wanted to go offensively. He’s got to be better in this series, much better.

Gary Neal, SG Shot Chart 28 MIN | 7-16 FG | 1-2 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 17 PTS | -13

Along with Kemba, Neal had to force numerous bad shots as the shot clock was running down. This was a product of the Bobcats not being able to get the ball into the post due to Jefferson’s immobility. All things considered, Neal being able to manage 7-16 from the floor probably isn’t that terrible.

Chris Douglas-Roberts, SG Shot Chart 21 MIN | 0-1 FG | 1-2 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 1 PTS | -17

Inexistent. Another guy, along with Hendo, who’s going to have to figure out a way to be more assertive offensively. For CDR, that usually means making cuts off the ball, spacing the correct spots off dribble-penetration + grabbing 50/50 balls for put-backs.

Steve Clifford

If Jefferson cannot track down post-entries that are thrown to areas, rather than directly to him, as was the case yesterday due to the fact that he couldn’t move – well, then this will be quick work for the Heat to rid of Charlotte in the first round.

Coach, I know you know that it’s a long shot, but you’re going to have to insert some more quick offense that uses Jefferson as a decoy – if he can’t move to track down balls, I got nothing.

Four Things We Saw

  1. Miami forced 15 Charlotte turnovers and shot 11-23 (47.8%) from three-point range. Those are two stats that cannot repeat themselves in order for the Bobcats to have a chance in this series.
  2. Dwyane Wade abused Gerald Henderson to the tune of 23 points on 10-16 shooting. I mentioned in my series scouting report preview that this would be a key matchup due to the unknown of Wade’s health. Worst case scenario start for Hendo and the Bobcats here.
  3. It’s simple, folks. If Jefferson is only as healthy as the second half suggested then the Bobcats essentially have no chance. He’ll be much easier to front for the Heat and it’ll be close to impossible for the Bobcats to get post-entries into him – he can’t track down lob entries with how he was moving in the second half. What all of this means is that Charlotte will have zero offense – it all runs through Big Al. Let’s hope that he’s able to get a little better in the next few days and fight through this injury, because any success that this team has in this series will ultimately depend on Jefferson’s production.
  4. EDIT from Brett – I’m just going to leave this image here. This is a screenshot of MKG’s second “foul” on LeBron – I think MKG’s chest hit LeBron’s hand?
    A reason for optimism for Charlotte – Miami probably doesn’t get that call in Charlotte (or MKG’s third foul either).

Making these playoffs matter

In 2010, the Charlotte Bobcats were good. They had the league’s best defense, and just enough offense to scrape together 44 wins and a playoff berth. Gerald Wallace earned the team’s first and only All-Star appearance. At that time, it was easily the best season in Bobcats history — and because of the pending change back to the Hornets name, it’ll always be the best season in Bobcats history.

But for a lot of people, myself included, that year is defined by the way it ended: a four-game beating in the first round of the playoffs, at the hands of Dwight Howard and the Orlando Magic. It was a blunt reminder that superstars run this league, and being good only counts for so much.

That 0-4 sweep was Charlotte’s only real success in its first nine seasons.

It turned out that team had peaked. After starting out the 2010-11 season at 9-19, coach Larry Brown quit. The team limped on to a 23-31 record, then the rebuild started in earnest: Gerald Wallace was traded for two first-round picks, cash and cap space in the form of Joel Przybilla, Dante Cunningham and Sean Marks.

Do we need to talk about the two years that followed?

This season’s Charlotte Bobcats are good. They have one of the league’s best defenses, and just enough offense to scrape together 43 wins and a playoff berth. Al Jefferson seems poised to earn the team’s first and only All-NBA recognition.

But barring one of the biggest upsets in sports history, things won’t look as rosy after at least 192 minutes of uppercuts and suplexes from the Miami Heat. Flaws are easier to see when they’re being exploited by the game’s best, and LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh will inevitably wipe away some of the shine from what has been an enjoyable season.

Despite that, there’s still a sense of optimism about this team. Even if they don’t have a star on the magnitude of Howard, this team is young and has room to grow. Steve Clifford is a talented, steady coach that should have a long-term future in Charlotte. Spotty draft record aside, the front office is capable, nailing nearly every trade and free agent signing since the addition of GM Rich Cho.

That makes this series feel so important and not important at all.

On the one hand, this is the first real referendum on the last few years of rebuilding. As great as Jefferson has been, his signing more or less locked the Bobcats into this core group.

After stripping the team to start fresh, this was the hand they were dealt. They move forward without a budding superstar like Anthony Davis, or even a player with the obvious potential of John Wall, Kyrie Irving, Damian Lillard or Andre Drummond. This series feels doomed from the tip-off, and that puts a spotlight on the team’s ceiling.

On the other hand, who cares what happens against Miami? This will still have been a terrific season, and the roster is stocked with exciting, genuinely likable guys.

The players especially deserve this success after a few years in the wilderness, and losing to an all-time great like this era’s Heat wouldn’t be a crime. If they’re able to compete, even steal a few games, they’ll enter the offseason knowing they made the best of a bad beat. That’s something you can build off of. When you’re this big of an underdog, there’s no real way to lose.

What ultimately matters is where things go from here. The 2010 season lost most of the significance it had because it was a dead end — four years later, Gerald Henderson is the only player left from that squad.

The context for this year’s team is still being written. It’s up to the players, the coaching staff and the front office to make sure it’s just the first step instead of another false start.

PLAYOFFS: Bobcats-Heat — Dissecting the match-ups

This bruised Charlotte fan-base has waited ten grueling years for the franchise to churn out a product like this one – 2009-10 was the first ever playoff team in the team’s history, but was a efficiency nightmare on the offensive end, and quite frankly not as trusty of a unit as the one we have in front of us now.

I’m hardly breaking news by stating that no one had expectations for this group coming into the season, and when Jordan, Higgins and Cho decided to throw the bank at Al Jefferson last summer, the Bobcats laughing stock wagon only appeared to be gaining steam. That was ultimately halted by a rookie head coach who has molded the 5th most efficient defense in the entire NBA and a 29-year old Jefferson who is having the best season of his career. Charlotte has made many of their critics eat crow already, but the most daunting challenge lies less than 24 hours away in Miami, FL.

A meeting with the defending champions Miami Heat is not what I would have drawn up for you if you would have told me that the Bobcats would win 8 of their last 9 games to close the regular season, but by hook, or by crook, that’s what we have. There’s, of course, Lebron, Wade and Bosh – also known as the ‘Big Three’ – matching up with these guys is going to be difficult, but it is for everyone. Charlotte will have some advantages and match-ups that they can feed off of – let’s dive into the key match-ups, see just how everyone is going to be used and try to predict what the ultimate outcome will be.


Kemba Walker / Mario Chalmers – The eyeball test would suggest that this one would favor Kemba, but the numbers suggests otherwise. With Chalmers on-the-court in 4 games this season Kemba shot 33.3% from the floor and just 11% from behind-the-arc. With Chalmers off-the-court Kemba was a totally different player – 41% from the floor + 40% from deep. On the same token, Kemba had 17 dimes with Chalmers guarding him and only 7 without Mario on the floor. The on vs. off-the-floor difference in minutes is not enough to chalk up any of these numbers to being flawed.

Ultimately, this matchup does favor Kemba. Chalmers is known to play uninspired defense in stretches and will gamble for steals. Speaking of gambling for steals, Kemba loves to as well. Walker will have to choose wisely whether he goes under or over ball-screens when guarding Chalmers – he can make you pay when you go under will his shooting ability. Personally, I’d make him a driver.

Walker has to be able to attack the paint off of pick-and-rolls and leave Mario in the dust. If Kemba is able to turn the corner in PnR’s and force the hedge defender to commit, it will open up space for Jefferson to start knocking down the pick-and-pop jumper – a shot I think is key to stretch the Miami defense + make them think twice about how aggressive they want to be at guarding Kemba on PnR’s.

Gerald Henderson / Dwayne Wade – Henderson did not fair very well when Wade was on-the-court and guarding him this season. Hendo shot 35.3% + turned the ball over 3 times in 42 total minutes. He shot 44.4% with Wade off -the-court + got to the foul line 5 more times.

Those are some Hendo quick hitter numbers that may not mean all that much in this series. Why? We have no clue how healthy Wade is coming into this series with a hamstring issue.

Now, let’s look at some numbers that I promise will make you smile – in 42 total minutes, Wade shot 10% from the floor and committed 6 turnovers when Hendo was guarding him. Hendo is definitely one of those guys that picks-and-chooses when he’s going to give solid effort on the defensive end – I think it’s safe to say that Wade brings out the best in Hendo defensively. From watching these two go against each other, trust me, they aren’t exchanging pleasantries in the same group iMessage chat away from basketball. To add fuel to the fire with this matchup, I have to believe that Clifford and the Bobcats are going to try and attack Wade with Hendo on the offensive end of the floor with his unknown health. He’s far from the most efficient offensive player on the planet, but Clifford is going to have to trust Hendo in this series – he’ll badly need him to wear out Wade and break into Miami’s bench to give Charlotte some depth matchup advantages.

If Wade is healthy, there’s no question that he has the upper-hand here, but that’s the unknown – this is likely going to be the biggest matchup that no one is talking heading into tomorrow afternoon.

Michael Kidd-Gilchrist / Lebron James – MKG essentially didn’t play if Lebron wasn’t on the floor in 4 games this season. Needless to say, it didn’t go great. We all remember Lebron’s 61-point outburst against MKG this season, but just wrap your mind around these numbers. With MKG guarding James in 4 games this season, the King shot 67.5% from the floor, 70% from 3 land, grabbed 12 rebounds, had 12 assists and just 4 turnovers. So, dominance basically.

None of James success is predicated on a lack of effort or will from MKG, but there likely is an intimidation factor at work here – MKG must be able to get past that. If he needs to use his fouls early-on to keep James from getting whatever he wants then so be it – MKG likely won’t be on the floor much at the end of the game anyways because of his liability as an offensive player.

Lebron will be able to play as far off of MKG as he would like, defensively, because MKG can’t shoot. At all. This presents a real problem for the Bobcats and their offensive efficiency as Lebron will likely be coming to double Jefferson when MKG is on the floor. One way to negate this is to have MKG being the guy to enter the ball to Jefferson as much as possible – MKG post-entry + a rim cut will force Lebron to at least account for his man who can be a problem on off-the-ball cuts.

We know who has the upper hand in this matchup, but I’m excited to see if MKG can simply get Lebron off to some rocky starts. History tells us know, but this is the post-season now. Yikes, that may mean something even worse for MKG. Say a prayer, everybody.

Josh McRoberts / Chris Bosh – If Miami goes with Haslem in the starting lineup, which everyone is expecting them to, in order to guard Jefferson then it’s very likely that McBob will be matched up on Bosh. There are a few reason for this – 1) Bosh can stretch the floor much more than Haslem can so McBob will have to inherit the role of being is Bosh’ grill on jump shots due to his superior mobility over Jefferson. 2) McBob is solid on PnR coverage, so he’ll be able to show/hedge hard on the ball-handler while also being able to recover to Bosh on pick-and-pops. Many have predicted that Bosh will be the X-factor for the Heat in this series and I wouldn’t disagree with that, but McBob is going to be physical with him + make Bosh work for everything. As key as Bosh is for Miami, McBob is equally key for the Bobcats because of the fact that he plays with so much energy – when things do get chippy in this series, I can almost guarantee that McBob will be right in the middle of it.

McBob may be put in some situations where he has to guard Shane Battier and Rashard Lewis in this series – similar concept to guarding Bosh in that they both will space the floor, but most notably in the corner. Very little, to zero, PnR coverage for McBob when matching up with either one of these guys.

Pulling Bosh away from the rim will be key and McBob will be able to do that as the connector to the offense. He’ll need to find a way to knock down a few 3′s per game in order to confuse Bosh as to how much he must contest McBob when he catches the ball at the top-of-the-key.

Al Jefferson / Udonis Haslem – It sounds like the Heat are going to start with Haslem against Jefferson, but the two didn’t log many minutes on the floor together in 4 match-ups this season – just a 26 minute sample size to go off of where Jefferson shot 37.5% – meh, throw that out the window. To small of a sample to mean much, truly. Haslem is going to surrender height & weight to Big Al, but he plays very strong and physical defensively, which is likely why Miami is going to start with him in this role.

Jefferson will likely guard Haslem, and not Bosh, on the defensive end so he doesn’t have to chase all the way out to the 3-point line and can anchor the paint as much as possible. Haslem will be involved in some PnR, but again, he doesn’t terrify you on the pick-and-pop. He can knock down the mid-range jumper, but not as efficiently as Bosh. Where Haslem does present a problem is in his habit to float to the short-corner off of Wade/James dribble-penetrations – Haslem likes this short-corner shot and can make defenses pay when they think they’ve got Wade/James corralled at the rim.

We’ve all heard about Jefferson’s success against the Heat this season – 3 games: 25.3 PGG on 57.5% from the floor. Essentially, this means that Miami doesn’t have anyone to truly matchup with Al. They’ll come at him by committee – fronting with Haslem + Bosh, with heavy backside help ready to double if a post catch is made. Spolestra will likely elect to only single cover Jefferson when Greg Oden is on the floor for Miami.

There’s no getting around it, Al Jefferson is absolutely key for any level of success that Charlotte hopes to have in this series. If he keeps pace with what he’s done to the Heat in 3 games so far this season then it’s very realistic that the Bobcats can push this series to 6 games.

Key Reserve Roles For the Bobcats, it starts with Gary Neal. He’s been solid post all-star break from behind-the-arc at 40% – making 3′s and stretching the floor is going to be key to open things up some for Jefferson down low and the bulk of this duty will fall into the arms (literally) of Neal. If he plays well, then the Bobcats will be right in the mix during the 4th quarter of every game.

Chris Douglas-Roberts has also emerged as a key reserve for the Bobcats in the second half of the year. First of all, he could be asked to guard Lebron late in games if Clifford elects to go with CDR and an offensive mindset. Secondly, he just needs to bring exactly what he did in the last 10 games to end the regular season – 27 MPG, 9.6 PPG, 45.6 FG%, 35.3 3FG%.

As fast as Miami likes to play, especially off of opponents turnovers, Charlotte will have to seek easy baskets in the open-floor as well. Cody Zeller is the most dynamic big that the Bobcats have in terms of speed and ability to finish. Also, Zeller is great at keeping balls alive off of the offensive glass – not something that Clifford asks his team to sell out on, but Zeller is one of the best at keeping possessions alive for Charlotte.

Remember reading earlier that the Bobcats will have to guard Lebron by committee? Well, a member of that committee will be Anthony Tolliver. He will likely have to guard him in spurts during this series. In part due to some foul trouble that could present itself for Charlotte and also because there will be a point-in-time when Clifford is seeking outside shooting, which Tolliver can provide. I think this guy will play a sneaky important role in this series.

Bismack Biyombo will have one job while on the floor. Protect the rim and rebound.

Prediction – Miami wins the series 4-2.

– All stats from compiled in this article are per NBA.com/Stats

Bobcats Playoff Preview: Around the web

As the Bobcats’ prepare for their second (and final) playoff appearance, we have scoured the web to provide a list of content to help in your preparation. On to the links.

First up, a simple illustration that was posted at TrueHoop which summarizes expectations:

It’s not a unanimous expectation, but it is the prevailing one.

Here’s a video from TrueHoop, talking about the improvements the Heat need to make in their defense to have a successful post-season:

(and a link in case the video embed doesn’t work – The challenge facing the Heat’s D)

Hardwood Paroxysm has a couple of posts of interest to the Bobcat brethren:

Though they face a likely cameo appearance in the 2014 playoffs, that isn’t the be all and end all for Charlotte. This is about gaining experience for the future and learning what it takes to succeed as a playoff team. For players like Kemba Walker and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist getting their first taste of playoff basketball, they will be imbued with a desire to get back again and again. For rookie coach Steve Clifford, this will also be a learning experience for him as well.
- Derek James at Hardwood Paroxysm – I can’t wait for the Bobcats to return

To expect more than one victory from Charlotte in the series can only reflect a belief that the Heat are still idling in neutral warm-up mode. It would be a token victory, perhaps hollow solace compared to the opportunity to enter this year’s vaunted lottery. But the Charlotte NBA Franchise is on a journey of a thousand miles and they need to take as many steps as possible. I hope, for just one evening, that Michael Kidd-Gilchrist can bamboozle LeBron James, that Al Jefferson drives Chris Bosh to tears with dozens of plodding possessions from the left block, that the majestically bearded Josh McRoberts can find more arrows in his quiver than Ray Allen.
- Miles Wray at Harwood Paroxysm – I can’t wait for the Bobcats to steal one

Miami Heat (2) versus Charlotte Bobcats (7): The Bobcats have made the playoffs for the second time in franchise history and will look to leave behind the Bobcats name with as big of a bang as possible. For the Heat, they look to make the Bobcats another stepping stone to their third consecutive championship.
- Derek James again – Hidden subplots of the 2014 NBA playoffs

Over to RufusOnFire for a couple of links:

Who comes up biggest for the Bobcats in the series?

Ben: I think it’s got to be Al Jefferson. Miami can afford to throw double teams at him, but Charlotte can counteract that to a degree by flashing cutters from the elbow. Chris Bosh is a tough defender but Jefferson’s strength on the block is hard for him to defend. The Bobcats will post Jefferson up, re-post if needed and try to work him on screen and rolls — whatever different looks Clifford can give the Heat with Jefferson, he should and will try.
- Roundtable on the series at RufusOnFire – Bobcats vs Heat playoff roundtable

One of the the scariest parts about Miami’s collection of upper echelon starters is that they can rotate the rest for them so that they minimize being without LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh all at the same time.

Still, even when they give them time on the bench, Miami’s got a talented group of role players. They’re an odd bunch of veterans, journeymen and reclamation projects, but they fill their roles pretty well.
- Ben Swanson at RufusOnFire – Bench battles: How do Charlotte and Miami match up?

This one is not necessarily playoff related, but Bobcats Baseline did an interview with one of the people behind the web series on Chris Douglas-Roberts return to the NBA, and you should check it out: BobcatsBaseline – Never turn your back on the grind.

I’ll finish with a great rundown of the Bobcats’ rebuilding process from Rick Bonnell:

In the spring of 2010 the Charlotte Bobcats got a fleeting glance at the NBA playoffs.

It was four games against the Orlando Magic, all losses to a Dwight Howard-led team that reached the Eastern Conference finals

Turns out the only participant in that playoff series who ended up mattering to the Bobcats was a Magic assistant coach named Steve Clifford (more about that later).
- Rick Bonnell at the Charlotte Observer – Charlotte Bobcats followed plan to 2014 NBA playoffs

EDIT – Whoops, forgot about the 5 on 5 our very own Spencer Percy took part in over on ESPN:

2. What’s the scariest thing — good or bad — about the Bobcats?
Gutierrez: The inside-outside threat. The Cats may not be overflowing with deadly 3-point shooters, but if the Heat pay extra attention to Al Jefferson and his old-school, efficient post game, then the combination of Kemba Walker, Gary Neal, Gerald Henderson and possibly even Josh McRoberts could make life difficult for Miami. That fear starts with Jefferson, though, who averaged 24.5 points, 14.3 rebounds and 53 percent shooting in eight April games.

Krolik: For most teams, it would be Charlotte’s greatly improved defense, but for the Heat, it’s Al Jefferson. The Heat are as undersized as ever inside, and Greg Oden’s glacial lateral movement has kept him from being a post-stopper.

Percy: Al Jefferson is the politically correct answer, but honestly, I believe it’s that they’re a complete team. They can be 10 guys deep, and they’ll come at you by committee from night-to-night. They are deceivingly tough to devise a game plan for.
- Heat and Bobcats 5 on 5

Bobcats outlast Bulls; Ride wave of momentum into South Beach Sunday

Chicago Bulls 86 Final
Recap | Box Score
91 Charlotte Bobcats
Josh McRoberts, PF Shot Chart 35 MIN | 3-8 FG | 0-0 FT | 5 REB | 7 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 7 PTS | +2

Battled with Taj Gibson for what seemed like the entire second half. This felt like a playoff game and I can’t say enough about McBob’s effort. Seemed to make the right play, in the right moment, most of the night. Would be nice for him to rediscover that touch from deep starting Sunday.

Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, SF Shot Chart 23 MIN | 3-4 FG | 2-2 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 8 PTS | +1

I would be totally remiss if I didn’t give MKG credit in this game. Loved the aggressiveness on the offensive end front that start. It was clear that the team had a plan to get to the rim early on and MKG led that charge with the first offensive possession.

Al Jefferson, C Shot Chart 42 MIN | 4-14 FG | 2-4 FT | 18 REB | 3 AST | 1 STL | 2 BLK | 2 TO | 10 PTS | +9

Don’t let the grade fool you. Jefferson did his job on the boards and even made some stops at the rim with two blocks. I can’t justify not giving him a below average grade, though, because of what he has been doing on the offensive end. We’ll go ahead and assume this to be a factor of 1) Joakim Noah’s defensive effort, and 2) a simple outlier from the season sample.

Jefferson left the game in the second half with a left-knee contusion. Fans were holding their breath when Big Al left for the locker room, but it appears to be all-for-not and he should be good to go for Sunday in Miami.

Kemba Walker, PG Shot Chart 40 MIN | 6-16 FG | 10-11 FT | 7 REB | 8 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 22 PTS | +7

As is the case usually in close game for the Bobcats, Kemba made all of the big plays when the team needed it. Kemba scored 8 points in OT to propel Charlotte. Zero turnovers tonight, folks. Zero.

Gerald Henderson, SG Shot Chart 33 MIN | 5-13 FG | 1-3 FT | 6 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 11 PTS | +11

Hendo pretty much did what he does. Had some moments that had you jumping out of your seat like when he cut backdoor and punched one on Noah’s head. And he also had some moments where he forced bad jump shots and clearly wanted nothing to do with the shot in the first place. Here’s me, hoping for all of us, that Hendo peaks in the post-season.

Cody Zeller, C Shot Chart 18 MIN | 4-6 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 8 PTS | +3

Cody had a phenomenal first half and set TWC Arena ablaze with his highlight dunks in transition. Clifford decided to go small + go with McBob in the second half, so his minutes were very limited. Don’t let the one rebound fool you – Zeller kept plenty of balls alive off of the offensive glass, as he usually does. He led the team with three turnovers tonight and it’s simply a product of how sped up he can get when forced to put the ball on the floor, going to the rim – a slowly developing skill.

Bismack Biyombo, C Shot Chart 11 MIN | 2-3 FG | 0-2 FT | 7 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 4 PTS | -4

Looked competent offensively tonight when he had opportunities around the rim. He has a highlight block that will blow the roof of TWC and lead to a transition bucket in the playoffs.

Luke Ridnour, PG Shot Chart 13 MIN | 1-3 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 3 PTS | -2

After an unreal 4th quarter in Atlanta on Monday, Ridnour took some jump shots tonight that missed so bad that I’ll likely wake up tonight with cold sweats dreaming about them. He redeemed himself by knocking down a big three-pointer though, so all is forgotten. The second honestly just struggled tonight with Luke manning the show.

Gary Neal, SG Shot Chart 20 MIN | 2-8 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 3 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 5 PTS | -6

Not a great shooting night, but the effort across the board was fantastic. Crashing the defensive glass, diving for loose balls, and overall just playing with playoff passion. Neal is going to be key for Charlotte against the Heat in the first round – this is why we acquired the guy at the trade deadline.

Chris Douglas-Roberts, SG Shot Chart 30 MIN | 4-10 FG | 3-4 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 13 PTS | +4

When you need a big shot during a game. Or, when you need three of them – call on CDR. The combination of knocking down the clutch corner three’s late in game + having an instinct to be around the ball off of the offensive glass are the kind of tools CDR adds to the arsenal for this team.

Steve Clifford


Four Things We Saw

  1. This game started with Chicago getting most of what they wanted around the basket with their 16 points-in-the-paint in the first quarter. That changed quickly as the Bulls only managed 12 points from that distance for the remainder of the game and the Bobcats poured in 34 points from up close in the last three quarters.
  2. Kemba Walker. If the Bobcats continue to play close games in the first round against Miami then it’s going to ride on Walker’s shoulders. He’s made for late games and, again tonight, proved that by carrying Charlotte with 8 of their 11 points in OT.
  3. BRING ON THE HEAT. You may cringe as you read that and I don’t blame you, but it is what it is now. The Wizards blew out Boston tonight and actually managed to fight their way all the way to the 5th seed in the east with Brooklyn’s loss to Cleveland. Whatever. We get Miami and the bid for arguably the biggest upset in playoff history begins Sunday at 3:30 PM ET in Miami. It will be the Charlotte Bobcats first appearance ever (and likely last) playing on ABC.
  4. Here we go everyone. As the Bobcats exit and the Hornets prepare to take over the reigns of the franchise in Charlotte, the 2014 NBA Playoffs provide for the ideal transition. Have fun.

Game #82: Bobcats vs. Bulls — Sprint to the finish + NEW PodCats!

Who: Charlotte Bobcats vs Chicago Bulls

What: NBA Basketball – Bobcats Home Game

When: 7:00 PM ET

Where: Live at Time Warner Cable Arena, Charlotte, NC

The Matchup:

Record Offensive
Charlotte 42-39 101.3 (23) 101.3 (6) 94.8 (21)
Chicago 48-33 99.9 (27) 97.8 (2) 92.8 (28)

Charlotte: Brendan Haywood (OUT), Jeffery Taylor (OUT)
Chicago: Greg Smith (Questionable), Derrick Rose (OUT)

Starting Lineups

Bobcats Bulls
PG Kemba Walker Kirk Hinrich
SG Gerald Henderson Jimmy Butler
SF Michael Kidd-Gilchrist Mike Dunleavy
PF Josh McRoberts Carlos Boozer
C Al Jefferson Joakim Noah
6th Man Gary Neal Taj Gibson


Last night was another wonderful edition of PodCats. Doug Branson and myself discussed the Bobcats huge win in Atlanta + broke down the final play that put Chris Douglas-Roberts in the spotlight with his game winning shot – I also make a case for why CDR needs to see the court more in the post-season and what that means for one current starter.

We also discussed the playoff seeding scenarios for Charlotte – it all comes down to tonight. LISTEN HERE!

Join Doug and I LIVE this Friday at 6:30 PM ET when we breakdown the upcoming playoff series for the Bobcats. LISTEN LIVE HERE!


  • It’s pretty simple for both teams tonight – win and keep hopes alive that you move up in the eastern conference seeding. The Bobcats have to win and have a Washington loss in Boston in order to stay alive for the sixth seed. That’s big, of course, because it means avoiding Miami in the first round. Chicago is currently tied with Toronto in overall record, but the Raptors own the tie-breaker – the Bulls need to win tonight in Charlotte and hope for a Raptors loss in New York in order to move into the third seed.
  • The Wizards and Raptors both tip tonight at 8:00 PM ET, so whoever comes out on top between Charlotte and Chicago should be able to watch their playoff fate unfold live in the locker room in Charlotte.
  • Coach Thibs has made it very clear that Chicago will play to win tonight — “We’re playing to win. When you look at where our guys minutes-wise, total minutes-wise, health-wise, that’s what we should do.”
  • Coach Clifford has downplayed the seeding issue for the Bobcats recently and stated that it’s more important for this team to start playing better leading into the post-season, regardless of who they end up matched up with. That being said, everyone would like to avoid Miami in the first round so it’s safe to say Coach Cliff and the team understand the importance of winning this game.
  • Bulls center Joakim Noah could very possibly end up being the defensive player of the year in the NBA and he’s going to give Al Jefferson problems tonight, make no mistakes about it. For Big Al the key is to simply stay disciplined, don’t let Noah get under your skin with his emotional tactics and get him into foul trouble early.
  • The Bobcats will have to get more from the starting backcourt than they did on Monday to have a chance tonight. Kemba Walker and Gerald Henderson were a combined 2-18 from the floor on Monday. These two guys are extremely important to Charlotte’s success in the post-season as the attention on Jefferson will only continue to elevate.
  • Prediction: 94-90 Bulls. Bobcats finish regular season 42-40 and will play the Miami Heat in the first round of the playoffs.

Unlikely heroes; Bobcats second unit keep possible 6th seed alive

Charlotte Bobcats 95 Final
Recap | Box Score
93 Atlanta Hawks
Josh McRoberts, PF Shot Chart 15 MIN | 1-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 4 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 3 PTS | +6

Like most of the starters tonight, he was pretty insignificant. Clifford subbed him in before the last play of the game to inbound to CDR for the game winner.

Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, SF Shot Chart 23 MIN | 3-4 FG | 2-7 FT | 9 REB | 3 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 8 PTS | -2

There are some real bright spots here: points and rebounds. 2-7 from the foul line is horrid, though, and it still really frustrates me that he cannot finish through any contact – MKG would be twice the offensive player if he could only learn to finish stronger around the rim.

As usual, great hustle every second on the floor.

Al Jefferson, C Shot Chart 35 MIN | 11-17 FG | 5-7 FT | 15 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 27 PTS | -3

Ho-hum kind of performance from Jefferson. Atlanta did all they could with him and became somewhat effective in forcing him to catch away from the basket and doubling in the second half, but ultimately it didn’t matter. Jefferson hit the go-ahead shot to make it 93-91 late in the 4th and the Bobcats never trailed again.

Kemba Walker, PG Shot Chart 25 MIN | 1-9 FG | 2-4 FT | 0 REB | 7 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 5 PTS | -5

This was one of Kemba’s worst games of the season. Maybe the worst. He didn’t play at all in the final quarter.

Gerald Henderson, SG Shot Chart 24 MIN | 1-9 FG | 2-2 FT | 5 REB | 3 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 4 PTS | -10

I don’t know how to justify giving him any better of a grade than Kemba. Outside of the almost monster put-back Hendo almost had, it was all ugly. So yes, the best memory I have of his game tonight is actually a shot that he almost made. Anything else? Okay.

Anthony Tolliver, PF Shot Chart 20 MIN | 2-7 FG | 0-0 FT | 6 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 6 PTS | +5

Tolliver got the Bobcats going early in the 4th with a three-pointer. The team chipped away on the Hawks lead from there and Tolliver came up with some big time rebounds to help fuel the comeback.

Cody Zeller, C Shot Chart 12 MIN | 3-6 FG | 2-4 FT | 1 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 8 PTS | -9

Hit two mid-range jumpers which was nice to see, but nothing else to write home about for Zeller in this game.

Bismack Biyombo, C Shot Chart 13 MIN | 1-1 FG | 0-1 FT | 6 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 2 BLK | 0 TO | 2 PTS | +5

Played his usual role as an imposing rim-protector while on the floor + came down with two big offensive rebounds in the 4th quarter that eventually led to a Ridnour bucket.

Luke Ridnour, PG Shot Chart 23 MIN | 5-8 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 4 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 10 PTS | +7

Sweet stroke Luke. He took on a large portion of the scoring role in the Bobcats 4th quarter comeback – scored all 10 of his points in the final quarter on 5-7 shooting.

Gary Neal, SG Shot Chart 25 MIN | 5-11 FG | 5-5 FT | 2 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 17 PTS | +8

10 of Neal’s 17 points came in the final quarter as he teamed up with Ridnour to continuously snipe Atlanta and keep Charlotte alive in their hunt for the 6th seed in the east. I was very impressed with his defensive effort in the final period, along with the entire second unit, when the team had to have it.

Chris Douglas-Roberts, SG Shot Chart 23 MIN | 2-3 FG | 1-1 FT | 2 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 5 PTS | +8

CDR had nothing on the stat sheet other than 2 fouls going into the 4th, then he impacted just about every aspect of the game in the final period.

CDR hit a right-handed floater as time expired to put the Bobcats over the top in their incredible comeback. The play was a double downscreen decoy that eventually brought Jefferson to the right block to set a pindown screen for CDR – he caught it, gave a few power dribbles and tossed up the eventual winner.

Steve Clifford

Will be interesting to see the approach that Clifford takes with his starters tomorrow in practice after their uninspired effort on the defensive end tonight.

Two Things We Saw

  1. Charlotte has guaranteed an above .500 record on the season with their 42nd win and will play their final regular season game Wednesday night at home against Chicago.
  2. Scenario for the 6th seed: Bobcats must beat Chicago and Washington must lose in Boston. Any other outcome keeps Charlotte in the 7th seed and in a first round series with the defending NBA champion Miami Heat.

Game #81: Bobcats @ Hawks — Stay away from the Heat. New PodCats!

Who: Atlanta Hawks vs Charlotte Bobcats

What: NBA Basketball – Hawks Home Game

When: 7:30 PM ET

Where: Live at Phillips Arena, Atlanta, GA

The Matchup:

Record Offensive
Atlanta 37-43 103.3 (15) 104.0 (15) 96.9 (13)
Charlotte 41-39 101.3 (23) 101.3 (6) 94.9 (21)


Atlanta: Paul Millsap (OUT-rest), Kyle Korver (OUT-rest), DeMarre Carroll (OUT-rest), Al Horford (OUT)
Charlotte: Brendan Haywood (OUT), Jeffery Taylor (OUT)

Starting Lineups

Hawks Bobcats
PG Jeff Teague Kemba Walker
SG Louis Williams Gerald Henderson
SF Cartier Martin Michael Kidd-Gilchrist
PF Mike Scott Josh McRoberts
C Pero Antic Al Jefferson
6th Man Shelvin Mack Gary Neal


First of all, if you haven’t heard the PodCats Show from Friday, you have to go ahead and catch up here. Doug Branson, Greg Pietras and myself debate Charleston, SC, why I cannot pronounce too many NBA names correctly and, of course, everything Bobcats.

We’ll be LIVE again tomorrow at 6:30 — LISTEN HERE.


  • Let’s start with the fact that Atlanta has won 11 straight games over the Bobcats. So, there’s that to chew on. Although, Atlanta has elected to rest three starters tonight since they’re locked into the 8th seed – Millsap, Korver & Carroll.
  • All Bobcats fans will be paying close attention to two games in the association tonight. Of course, our game, but the Wizards will host Miami. A Bobcats win + Wizards loss means Charlotte will move back into the six seed with just one game remaining. Currently, Washington does control their own destiny for the sixth seed if they win out (vs. Miami, @ Boston).
  • Unfortunately for Charlotte, Atlanta has been playing solid basketball as of late — it’s started on the defensive end. In the past five games (4-1) Atlanta is sporting a defensive rating 96.1 (-7.9 from season avg.), which would be on par with the best NBA defensive team, but this is a very small sample and obviously not sustainable. Nonetheless, as I’ve mentioned numerous times, playoff teams begin to defend much harder this time of the year.
  • Atlanta sophomore, and ex-UVA standout, Mike Scott has been a secret weapon for the Hawks this season. In the past ten games Scott is only getting around 16 minutes per night, but he’s been extremely effective with those minutes — 8.6 PPG + 53.5% FG. Scott can stretch it all the way out to the three-point line, although he’s not great from there – he’s an excellent mid-range shooter. He’ll certainly be a factor tonight and will start in the place of Paul Millsap.
  • Hawks center Pero Antic will play tonight. In the last meeting between these two teams back on March 17th Brand & Antic held Jefferson to just 16 points on 6-15 shooting.
  • Atlanta’s horse Paul Millsap will sit tonight for Atlanta. Good thing, because Millsap has carried the Hawks all year long and hasn’t shown too many signs of slowing down recently — 18.6 PPG + 11 RPG in the past five.
  • Kemba did go through shoot-around with the team this morning in Atlanta and is expected to start tonight.
  • With Atlanta sitting three starters tonight, they’re lending as much of a hand as possible for the Bobcats to track the Wizards down in search of the sixth seed.
  • Prediction: Bobcats 102-92.