Who: Charlotte Bobcats vs Detroit Pistons
What: NBA Basketball – Bobcats Home Game
When: 7:00 PM ET
Where: Live at Time Warner Cable Arena
|Charlotte||16-52||101.2 (28)||111.7 (30)||91.5 (16)|
|Detroit||23-47||103.1 (22)||108.3 (25)||90.7 (23)|
Charlotte: Ramon Sessions (OUT)
Detroit: Andre Drummond (OUT), Brandon Knight (Day-to-Day)
|PG||Kemba Walker||Jose Calderon|
|SG||Gerald Henderson||Rodney Stuckey|
|SF||Michael Kidd-Gilchrist||Kyle Singler|
|PF||Josh McRoberts||Jason Maxiell|
|C||Bismack Biyombo||Greg Monroe|
|6th Man||Ben Gordon||Will Bynum|
1- DEFENSE: Greg Monroe has beaten up the Bobcats inside this year, averaging 18.5 points, 10.5 rebounds and 6.5 assists on 61 percent shooting over two games. Is there any reason to believe the shift to McRoberts as starting power forward will help the post defense?
Mathew: I think it will help. Mullens, as noted ad nausea, is not a strong defender. And for all Biyombo’s natural gifts, he is often outmatched against an opponent with a relatively strong repertoire of post moves. McRoberts does not boast a great deal of raw ability on the defensive end but I believe his experience will enable him to do a better job against the talented Greg Monroe.
Greg: Greg Monroe is really, really good, so he’s probably going to get his. McRoberts has never been known for his defense, either, so it’s hard to believe he’ll shut down one of the best young centers in the league.
But! Since McRoberts has started (a small six-game sample size), Charlotte has been better at defending the paint: Teams are shooting 31.9 percent from the area over that stretch, compared to 37.8 for the season. They’ve also slightly cut down on the number of shots per game their opponents attempt at the rim. A lot of that has to do with the caliber of team the Bobcats have played recently, though it’s encouraging. They’re still giving up three-pointers at a very high rate, but baby steps are important.
2- LOOKING AHEAD: Detroit owes Charlotte a first-rounder that’s top-eight protected next year, then top-one protected in 2015. When do you think that the Pistons will have to pay out? Can they put together a team in 2013-14 that’s good enough to compete for the playoffs?
Mathew: I do think they’ll compete for a playoff spot next year. They’ll more than likely be battling the likes of the improved Toronto Raptors and possibly Bynum-led Philadelphia 76ers. Therefore, I believe they wind up paying out next year. Given the Pistons’ projection (should be improving YOY into the near future) it would be in Charlotte’s best interest to attain the pick after next season anyway.
Greg: Detroit’s in very good cap position heading into the offseason, with just under $30 million on the books according to Storytellers Contracts. Rodney Stuckey’s deal is only partially guaranteed, so they can cut him for even more space.
Unfortunately for the Pistons, this year’s draft and free agent crops are looking pretty lackluster. They could invest in some help on the wings, with players like Monta Ellis and OJ Mayo available. They can absorb a lot of salary in a trade, as well, so that could be an option.
It’s hard to imagine, with that much dead weight coming off their books, that they won’t improve on this year’s record. They’ll probably still be a fringe playoff team, but that should be good enough to escape the bottom eight.
3- PICK IT: This one’s another winnable game for the Bobcats. They’ve split the season series so far, and even their loss was a close 105-99 result. Who’s your pick?
Mathew: Bobcats. Charlotte has won three straight at home and with Brandon Knight likely to miss the contest (as well as their talented rookie Andre Drummond who is out with a stress fracture in his back) I’ll give the home squad the advantage. Kemba vs. Knight would have been entertaining to watch, though Jose Calderon, who was acquired just before the trade deadline, is a formidable matchup in his own right.
Greg: Here’s something I haven’t seen in a while: the Bobcats are actually favored by 1.5 points in this game. Detroit is coming in on a 10-game losing streak, and their starters played heavy minutes against the Heat on Friday night. The well-rested Bobcats have a very good chance to win this one.