Opponent: Detroit Pistons (2-0)
Last season: Detroit wins season series 3-0. Game 1: Detroit wins 104-85. Game 2: Detroit 103-100 (OT). Game 3: Detroit 113-87.
Offensive: 99.6. Defensive: 111.1. Differential: -11.5. (Numbers are for the games between the squads last season.)
Pretty much the same squad for the Pistons is back from a year ago, and they are still very good. In their first 2 games of the season, they are scoring at a rate of 114.2 points per 100 poss, and surrendering 107.4. The defensive number is on a bit high for the Pistons the league has come to know the last few years, but their 2 games were against Washington and Indiana, who can both fill it up (but return the favor). In addition to their efficiency domination, the Pistons are controlling the glass early on, grabbing 36% of available offensive rebounds and an absurd 82.9% of defensive rebounds.
Looking back at last year's games, the one that was competitive was different for 4 main reasons:
Rebounding – The Bobcats held their own in the OT game, getting out rebounded by only 48-45 (trust me, much worse in the other games). Emeka had a huge night with 15 and Gerald chipped in with 6, but the real difference…
Nazr was still in prove something mode – This game was in early January, while Nazr was still playing with a passion that seemed to fade as the season progressed. No doubt, it was stoked by the chance to show up his old team, and he did: 19 points, 13 rebounds, and 3 blocks.
Defense – The Bobcats blocked 10 shots in this game, led by Nazr and Emeka with 3 a piece. Overall, the Pistons shot only 38.8%. Good someone please tell Nazr the Pistons have been talking back about him or something before the game?
Shooting – The Bobcats stayed close in this game by actually shooting decently. In the other 2 Piston games, they shot 43% or below, but in this game, 47.5%. Nazr and Emeka were the best from the field, at 8-14 and 8-11 respectively.
So, all these good things and they still lost? Yes, because of their Achilles' Heel/Walton's foot/whatever you want to call it: Free throw shooting. They took 11 more attempts than the Pistons, 32-21, but only made 1 more free throw. Matt Carroll was actually the worst culprit, hitting only 2-5.
Where does that leave the Cats tonight? Well, they will have to play bigger than they did against Miami, because Jared Dudley would have a tough time with Antonio McDyess/Rasheed. But with Emeka and Nazr both healthy, the Cats have enough size to compete. The question is how hard will they? With some dogged defense, and a relentless effort on the glass, the Bobcats have a chance. Do they want it? We will see in about 12 hours.