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Bobcats @ Thunder Preview: 3-on-3 with Daily Thunder

Who: Oklahoma City Thunder vs Charlotte Bobcats

What: NBA Basketball – Thunder Home Game

When: 8:00 PM ET

Where: Live at Chesapeake Energy Arena

The Matchup:

Record Offensive
Oklahoma City 10-4 108.2 (3) 100.9 (15) 95.2 (11)
Charlotte 7-5 97.7 (26) 100.7 (13) 96.7 (3)

Previous Meetings:

Oklahoma City: NONE
Charlotte: Bismack Biyombo (QUESTIONABLE), Gerald Henderson (OUT), Tyrus Thomas (OUT)

Starting Lineups

Thunder Bobcats
PG Russell Westbrook Kemba Walker
SG Thabo Sefolosha Ramon Sessions
SF Kevin Durant Michael Kidd-Gilchrist
PF Serge Ibaka Byron Mullens
C Kendrick Perkins Brendan Haywood
6th Man Kevin Martin Jeffery Taylor

3-on-3 TrueHoop NetworkThe Bobcats travel to the midwest tonight to face Kevin Durant and the Oklahoma City Thunder. OKC scores a lot of points and they do it efficiently. The Bobcats offensive efficiency numbers have been progressively dropping, so will they be able to limit enough mistakes and get enough stops against this high powered offensive Thunder team to be competitive tonight? Royce Webb, of the TrueHoop blog ‘Daily Thunder‘ stops by to help give some insight on what to expect tonight and also answer whether or not it’s time to put the Biyombo-Ibaka debate to rest.

1- STATS: The Bobcats are certainly overmatched on paper tonight. OKC  is 3rd in the league in offensive efficiency (108.2), while Charlotte ranks 25th (97.7). Doesn’t figure that the Cats will be able to slow the Thunder down either as Charlotte gives up 100.7 points per 100 possessions to their opponents- that ranks 13th in the league. What statistical category does Charlotte have to make sure they win tomorrow in order to have a chance at the upset?

Spencer: Turnovers. OKC gives it away a lot, but the Bobcats have been very good about taking care of the basketball so far this season- Turnover ratio is 13.3, good for 8th best in NBA. The Thunder have been on the opposite side of the spectrum, turning it over on 15.9% of their possessions and that’s tied for worst in the league. Charlotte can slow OKC down by taking care of the ball and also create more opportunities than their opponent by forcing turnovers.

Royce Webb (Daily Thunder): Turnover battle. The Thunder are prone to give it away in bunches and if they get careless, the Bobcats could make up the offensive difference by simply have more possessions and more shot attempts.

Brett: Free throw attempts.  Both teams are near the top of the league in attempts/game, so for the Bobcats to have a chance in this game, they need to come out ahead in attempts (which is unlikely, on the road).

2- OPINION: Since Bismack Biyombo was drafted by the Bobcats in the summer of 2011 he’s drawn Serge Ibaka comparisons, but it’s clear to anyone that keeps up with this league that Ibaka is light years ahead of Biyombo in development to this point. Will Biz ever develop on the offensive end like Ibaka, or is it time to put this comparison to rest?

Spencer: Defensively, the two aren’t so different. Offensively, they contrast each other more and more by the day. Biyombo looks just as uncomfortable with the ball as he did last season, and maybe worse. He has no go-to move and holds the ball too long before making a play. Biz’ age certainly permits him the time and opportunity to make strides, but there’s no sign of evidence yet. Ibaka, on the other hand, has become a totally different player on the offensive end since his rookie campaign. For one, he’s developed a trusty mid-range jumper and just flat out looks smooth on that end of the court now. Never would have expected Ibaka to develop the skills he has on the offensive end of the floor this quickly. I think it’s time to put a rest to the Biyombo-Ibaka comparison. Right now, Ibaka is far more superior of an overall player and I don’t see many similarities anymore at all, with the exception of the shot blocking.

Royce: I obviously haven’t seen Biyombo as much as Charlotte fans, but the Bobcats played OKC in the preseason and I couldn’t help but chuckle at the idea the two are anything alike. Defensively, certainly comparable because of the length and athleticism. But on the offensive side, Ibaka has become a pretty polished player. I wouldn’t say Biyombo can’t do it because if you look at Ibaka three years ago, the thought he’d be an offensive force was crazy.

Brett: Too soon to say.  Bismack is a year into his NBA career…but, that first season was far from a normal one, with him joining the team late, because of his buyout issues, and then it being a compressed schedule (for a head coach that was not getting the best out of the team).  With Bismack still one of the younger players in the league, significant improvement is still possible – but let’s give him a full, normal season before we start projecting.

3- PICK IT: The Bobcats continue to figure out a way to win close games and have now won six of their seven games by four points or less. The Thunder, on the other hand, just do what they do- win. Although, OKC has already dropped two games at home this season. Thunder cruise tonight, or does Charlotte continue to shock the NBA world early in the season?

Spencer: Thunder win this one. The Bobcats have found a way to win the close games and that’s a good sign for a young team, but they’ve done it with the easiest schedule in the league and while their opponents have shot 29% in the clutch (stat from NBA.com). The upcoming schedule for the Bobcats gets much tougher, starting tonight.

Royce: I bet it’ll be close. But I do think the Thunder will win. They take a great amount of pride in defending home court and having lose two already, dropping a third early in the season wouldn’t sit well with them. The Bobcats are scrappy though and if the Thunder get loose with the ball, they could get bit.

Brett: At some point, the Bobcats are going to lose a close game.  I don’t think tonight is that night.  I don’t think this one is all that close.  For all the improvements the Bobcats have made, they’re still not a playoff team (yes, if the season ended today, they’d be in the playoffs – not the same thing – if the season ended after the first game, they’d be undefeated).  And they’re playing a top team on their homecourt, after a couple of tough games this weekend, and down a couple of key players (Tyrus, Henderson, and potentially Bismack).