Rick Bonnell has an article up/in print today outlining 5 things the Bobcats need to do to not lose game 3. The most important one Bonnell listed, in my mind:
Stop tossing away possession
It's not a revelation they're sloppy with the ball; they led the NBA in turnovers at 15.73 per game. But as stated above, they often balanced that with takeaway defense.
Not in this series: They've committed 37 turnovers compared to the Magic's 23.
Not turning the ball over 6 times in the first few minutes of game 3 would certainly be a good start on improving from game 2. But that is not the only area of focus for the Bobcats.
Another good place to look would be at the three point line. No, not to shoot them – to stop the Magic from shooting them. So far in the series, the Magic have taken 57 three pointers and made 23 for a 3-point field goal percentage of 40.4%. While the Magic were very good in the regular season, they were not that good, shooting 37.6% from long range over the 82-game haul. That 3% difference is about 1 make per game so far in the series, or 3 additional points each night for the Magic. The key? Not who you might expect.
The Magic man with the most threes made so far is not Vince Carter, Jameer Nelson, Rashard Lewis or even J.J. Redick. It is Mickael Pietrus with 7 makes on just 11 attempts, for a mark of 63.6%. Aside from the one three he made where Pietrus tried to jump into Gerald Wallace to draw a foul, these have been largely opportunities coming off kick-outs and transition. And Pietrus is capitalizing and making the Cats pay for leaving him open. Should we be surprised by his performance? Well, slightly sure – 63.6% on 3-pointers is hardly sustainable outside of practice. But a little digging at MySynergySports revealed that this cannot shrugged off entirely – Pietrus shot 38.8% on threes for the season, a very solid mark, and has made 39.9% of his threes on spot-ups and exactly 40% coming in transition. So, the looks Pietrus has been getting in the series are the looks he likes and makes.
This goes back to the Bobcats overall defense, which has been focused on shutting down Dwight Howard. And now it seems, to the detriment of their 3-pointer defense. For the season, the Magic took threes on 35.0% of their field goal attempts, making them at 37.6%. So far against the Bobcats, Orlando is shooting threes for 41.3% of their attempts from the floor while also increasing their accuracy to the aforementioned 40.4%. One of those numbers needs to come down for the Bobcats to be successful – but they cannot continue to give up the bonus so often and so open and hope to turn this series around.
A bonus link to look over, again from Synergy: Magic and Bobcats data including regular season and post-season breakdowns. So very interesting stuff included, particularly the ability to points per play for different offensive opportunities (post-ups, pick and roll, transition, etc.). Check it out and provide any thoughts on how the Bobcats can adjust in the comments.