opponent: Utah Jazz (6-2)
Efficiencies: Offensive: 104.5. Defensive: 97.6. Differential: +6.9.
Last Season: Teams split 1-1.
Game 1: Charlotte 98-92.
Game 2: Utah 128-106.
Charlotte's Efficiencies in last season's games: Off: 104.6. Def: 113.4. Net: -8.8.
Another game – another tough opponent. It seems like every night the Bobcats take the court, a playoff contender awaits (aside from the Knicks). Just challenges to overcome – the Bobcats took down Chris Paul and the Hornets, why can't they do the same to Deron williams and the Jazz? Well, they can – maybe. Here are some keys:
Deron is rusty – keep it that way. Deron Williams has only played in 2 of the Jazz's games so far, and they are not clicking just yet. Wednesday night, the Jazz managed to lose to the previously winless Washington Wizards with Deron coughing the ball up 5 times. In his limited time, he has shot just 26.7% from the field. If the Bobcats manage to defend the pick and roll as well against the Jazz as they did against the Hornets, they should be able to add to his misery.
Jazz may be short-handed. Mehmet Okur is currently at home in Turkey, with his ailing father. Prayers go out to Mehmet and his family. Andrei Kirilenko left Wednesday's game early with a sprained finger. Okur's outside touch and AK47's all-around chaos-causing game are tough to match up with – so the Bobcats may catch a couple of breaks here.
Ethical side-note: Should I not mention the positive impacts of a player's absence in a case like Okur's? It seems callous – but at the same time, it does relate to the game. I am torn, and would love for someone to either confirm it is ok, or to chastise my insensitivity so I can know going forward. Reader – please weigh in on this.
Go back to driving and cut down on the 3s. The Bobcats got away from their early season aggression their last time out and got 3-happy, jacking up 27 of them. With Richardson out, no one on the team needs to be taking more than a couple (yes, even you Adam – you are still trying to get your rhythm back). Attack the interior – Carlos Boozer is not much of a defensive presence (understatement) and if AK47 is not there, so much the better.
Really – this is a very good Jazz team and they will be tough to beat, even with a couple of players possibly missing. The real focus for the Bobcats should be on resuming their previous effort on getting to the free throw line and their continued improvements on defense. This is a tough stretch in the season – even with so many games at home, due to the high caliber teams they are playing. Weather the storm, learn from it, and be ready to take it out on the weaker (relative when you are talking about one of the weaker teams) squads they face.